Volvo to invest in locally grown workforce

Katarina Fjording, vice president of purchasing and manufacturing for Volvo Cars U.S. Operations, wants to develop the workforce for the company’s first U.S. manufacturing facility locally, she said during her keynote address at the 2017 Workforce Development Symposium on Feb. 8.

Volvo is building its plant in Berkeley County and has said it will need 2,000 employees. Fjording said 43,000 people have shown interest in working for the company. But of that number, approximately 1,500 people will qualify because of the company’s hiring procedure.

“It is our job to figure out how to make that lower number higher,” she said.

However, she does not want to bring in too many people from outside the state as other companies have done. When speaking with other original equipment manufacturers (OEM) they told her they hired between 60 to 70 percent of their workers from outside the state.

“These are the jobs that we need to fill with people right here,” she said.

Her plan is to take the money that would be used for relocation and invest it into education. Volvo is working with Trident Technical College to develop curriculum that will help people interested in working for the company to know what the qualifications are and to provide them with the education needed to compete for their jobs.

“We want as many as possible, as local as possible,” she said of her

Workers at Volvo's Torslanda, Sweden, plant assemble a Volvo XC90. (Photo courtesy of Volvo)

Workers at Volvo’s Torslanda, Sweden, plant assemble a Volvo XC90. (Photo courtesy of Volvo)

workforce.

“What we need are a log of technicians and first level maintenance engineers,” she said. “A lot of our jobs don’t need someone with a rocket science education.”

Also it is up to all involved in workforce development to educate the community that manufacturing is not the dirty, greasy job that many people imagine when they think about manufacturing, Fjording said.

“This is a very clean and safe environment, and there are loads of good jobs in the industry,” she said.

“We want good people who care to work for us. They are wanted.”