Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Kia likely to reopen application process for West Point jobs

Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia is seriously considering reopening the application process for production jobs at the new West Point plant, a company official said Thursday.

The South Korean automobile manufacturer has already hired 1,143 workers as it gears up to begin production of the Sorento crossover utility vehicle in mid-November. Those workers came from a pool of more than 43,000 people who applied in January 2007.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond agrees, saying that it is a good idea to reopen the process because of economy changes over the last two years. For example, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in January 2007; today, it’s 10.3 percent, and there are about 280,000 more Georgians looking for work.
“There are thousands of people looking for work today that were not in that position a couple of years ago,” Thurmond said. “As a result, you will have people with higher skills and are more qualified than what you might have had a couple of years ago.”Kia will have about 1,250 workers hired by the time production begins. The company will then hire an additional 1,250 for a second production shift that will be working by the middle of next year.

The Department of Labor would work with Kia, Thurmond said.

“We obviously will support and assist Mr. Jackson and Kia in their hiring efforts in any way that is appropriate,” Thurmond said. “We will be there to support them.”

Kia officials have discussed a couple of ways to approach the second round of applications. In 2007, the process was open for about a week.
The production jobs start at $14.90 per hour and top out at $23.50 per hour. The hourly maintenance jobs start at $20.80 per hour and top out at $27 per hour.

Jackson said the company is now hiring about 100 salaried employees — mid- to lower-level managers. The jobs are in fields such as accounting and finance, quality engineering, training and public relations.

The Kia job news comes as the company’s North American sales are taking off.

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