Back to college as motor giant tempts students with job offers
Ford takes to the lecture halls to beat skills crisis
The skills crisis in the motor industry has grown so acute that executives from a leading marque are now going to college - to persuade students to take up a career in the business.
They are telling undergraduates at seven technical colleges that 100 jobs, technical and non-technical, await them over the next 18 months as a direct result of this particular drive alone.
Several other marques have a variety of promotions too.
They are all aimed at getting people to fill vacancies in a business struggling to meet demand on the back of constantly increasing sales and the need for repairs and servicing.
The steady rise in new-car sales and the high number of second-hand vehicles needing work carried out on them are pushing some garage outlets to breaking point as they try to meet their customers' needs.
Ford says it has now come up with the idea of taking the jobs campaign to the third-level colleges as part of its 'Drive Your Career' plan designed to fill the accelerating number of vacant positions.
So far they have visited, and spoken to, students at, the Institutes of Technology in Dublin, Dundalk and Waterford.
And it is understood that several students have already been in touch with the dealers who have vacancies to discuss the idea of taking up the career move in greater detail.
The current acute skills crisis can be traced back to the recession when sales fell and many garages had to let staff go.
As we remember only too well, many dealerships went to the wall over those brutal few years. Their demise and the need for the survivors to cut back led to severe job losses.
Many of those who were laid off emigrated to the UK, Australia, the US and Canada.
Now their absence is being acutely felt as demand for technicians, especially, and sales people, is picking up quickly.
All of which has prompted Ford's after-sales team to target the technical training colleges and to make their presentations directly to the students.
For those students who decide that the motor business is where they want to make their careers there is an added little bonus.
According to Dave Pimlott, customer service director with Ford Ireland, a dealer who employs one of the recruits will provide a €1,000 voucher to help towards the cost of work wear, tools and equipment.
It is estimated that more than 200 job vacancies a month are coming on stream right across the industry.
Furthermore, it is expected that as many as 5,000 jobs will need to be filled over the next two to three years.