DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. unveiled its updated UAW-Ford Technical Training Center after a $35 million investment to train hourly manufacturing employees on skills from basic electrical training to Federal Aviation Administration licensing for drone operation.
Michael Mikula, Ford's global chief engineer of advanced manufacturing, said the UAW-Ford apprenticeship program motivates workers to learn more skills.
"Apprentices actually get an increase in their hourly pay rate for performing a task," Mikula said. "You have an opportunity to increase your overall pay both by getting an increase in your wage and getting more overtime."
He said apprentices come to the training center, with hotel stays paid for by Ford, periodically for classes and then return to "validate" and further train at their home work site.
Hourly employees' training is funded by the four-year apprentice program, while salaried employees can use a tuition assistance program to pursue skills relevant to their work at Ford.
"We need to expand our offerings," said Doug Mertz, manager of the UAW-Ford training center. "We need to welcome salaried and hourly people alike into the center."
He said the training center, south of Detroit in Lincoln Park, Mich., also offers a five-week training course for high school seniors.
The center features advanced technology training in computer numerical control and 3D printing.
"I think it attracts the very motivated and highly skilled work force in the industry," said UAW Vice President Rory Gamble, who is in charge of the union's Ford department. "It's important that we are constantly training our UAW members, not only to operate the new machinery on the line, but to keep it up and running. This will help with job security for our members both now and in the future."
He said UAW members are dedicated to employee training.
"They know we have to embrace technology," Gamble said. "The technology has to work, to be stable and have longevity. To achieve that you must have a highly trained motivated work force."