It will be another 18 months before we see the first Hyundai roll out of the Montgomery plant, but the work that goes into it all is well underway. The first group of potential Hyundai employees is beginning an 8-week training program.
The training center opened Monday just down from the street from the plant site in south Montgomery. "Our job is to fill the need that Hyundai has to staff its plant," explained Phyllis Wesley of the Alabama Industrial Development Training Program (AIDT).
Job hopefuls will spend the first 4 weeks in the classroom and the second four weeks working on car-like mock-ups. "The work stations simulate what they will do in the plant," Wesley says.
Meanwhile, construction is moving swiftly on the plant itself, despite recent concerns. "With the record rain we've had, we're amazed at how well we've done," says Hyundai Spokesman Bill Lang.
There are five different sections of the plant, which when fully operational, will turn out more than 300,000 cars a year. It's expected to be finished in March of 2004, with the first car rolling off the assembly line a year later. The plant will manufacture the next generations of the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe Sport Utility Vehicle.
The AIDT training center will make sure that happens in a timely manner. And for now, the program is right on track. "It's very impressive what this construction group has done in seven months to turn this from a cow pasture into this!" says Wesley.
None of the new trainees wanted to talk with WSFA on camera Monday because many of them have other jobs. They don't want their bosses to know they're applying for a position with Hyundai. And they won't know until after the training process whether they've been offered the position.
The process is still in its early stages. So far, there are only 80 trainees. But by the time the plant opens in two years, more than 1600 people will have gone through the program.