Volvo says, ‘Let’s use relocation money for education and workforce development instead’

Volvo Feb 2017(1)

Volvo wants to close the skills gap between South Carolina’s workers and the companies that want to, but can’t, hire them.

The Sweden-based, Chinese-owned company is working with readySC, Trident Technical College and the South Carolina Department of Commerce to develop a curriculum outlining the training and education residents need before applying for employment with Volvo.

According to Katarina Fjording, purchasing and manufacturing vice president for Volvo Car U.S. Operations, before Volvo started building its automotive manufacturing campus in Berkeley County, Fjording heard repeatedly from other large manufacturers in the state that up to 70% of their workforces are hired from outside the Southeast. Companies are hiring most of their workers from the rest of North America and Europe.

“We have the salary and benefit costs, but on top of that you get relocation costs. … What if we could take that money and put it straight into the schools, into education instead?” Fjording said.

Volvo received a huge incentive package from the state, including some $216 million for site prep work and infrastructure projects, and other perks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for office space, sponsorships and branding opportunities, according to S.C. Commerce Department documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Fjording said Volvo wants to increase the likelihood that local workers will be hired by manufacturers that relocate to their area and believes that using some of the money meant for relocation costs to instead set up workforce development and education initiatives would help accomplish this.

“I think we can change this together,” she said. “Maybe not overnight, but we need to have a vision that we want to change this.”

This post contains excerpts from an article published by Charleston Regional Business Journal.  Read the full article here>>