Volvo Can’t Find Enough Qualified Workers

“If you test us out, you will stay with us,” says Volvo Cars executive Anders Gustafsson. The numbers bear him out, too- Volvo enjoys brand loyalty near the top of the scale among luxury car buyers, and the company is seeing a sales resurgence in the US with the launch of the hot-selling Volvo XC60 and compact XC40 crossovers. As it finishes construction of a $1.2 billion manufacturing campus in rural Berkeley County, South Carolina, it seems like there’s no stopping the Swedish brand. Nothing, that is, except the fact that fewer than 4 percent of the applicants for those manufacturing meet Volvo’s basic requirements.

 

Volvo Needs to Fill More Than 700 Jobs

“I understand that (it would be) tough because we have such a low unemployment rate in the area,” Gustafsson said, referring to the Charleston region’s 4.2 percent jobless number, the lowest in South Carolina. “It’s a little bit tougher than we had in our plans,” he admitted to the Post and Courier in a recent interview, “but I think everyone is doing an excellent job here in attracting new talent.”

Only half of the 1,500 workers Volvo needs to bring on in its first wave of hiring are already on site, but the toughest jobs to fill- those in maintenance and on the production floor- are still largely vacant. What’s more, by the time a second production line is introduced in 2021 to build the next generation of electrified XC90 SUVs, Volvo will need almost 4,000 people at its SC factory.

Meeting that 4,000 job target might be an even bigger ask in 2021 than it is today, however. Volvo is competing for workers with the region’s other advanced manufacturing firms, such as a new Mercedes-Benz plant in North Charleston that hopes to hire 1,300 people by 2020. They’re hiring from the same pool Volvo is, and only about 4 percent of the people who have applied through ReadySC have the basic skills, education and aptitude needed to make it through Volvo’s screening process, which includes an aptitude and skills test as well as the tasks of making a good impression during telephone and in-person interviews.

Gustafsson is confident the staffing will come together in time, however- and that the people he hires will be longtime members of the Volvo family. “The most important job is not hiring people, but developing them within our culture, because this is a great company,” he explains. “Employees are investments, and investments are things you have to take care of.”

 

Source | Images: the Post and Courier.

I've been in and around the car industry for over twenty years. Sometimes racing, sometimes selling, sometimes fixing- sometimes, even just washing!- but Cars and Trucks and Things That Go are what I'm all about.