The at the site of the new Caterpillar manufacturing plant in Athens-Oconee was turned over last week and, as construction progresses, prospective workers may be wondering when they'll have a shot at the coveted jobs coming with the facility.
The company has said it will employ an initial workforce during the first five
years of approximately 800 employees to manufacture the small track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators and escalate to about 1,400 employees by 2020 .
According to Plant Manager Todd Henry, Caterpillar is following a gradual phase-in approach. salaried, management-rank positions that have been posted over the last couple of weeks.
"We've had a really good response to those management positions locally," he said. "Here in Athens we've got some great candidates and my goal is to hire as many locals as we can."
Positions for higher-skilled workers, such as welders and machinists, will be available in first quarter of 2013 and another hire will come in late second quarter for general assemblers, logistics drivers and workers familiar with paint operations, Henry said.
"We're going to do some pilot runs to try out the equipment, get the facility running," he said.
Be "Work Ready" and Prepared for a "Quick Start"
In October 2013, production is slated to begin, and the bulk of the hiring will take place. The best way to prepare, Henry said, is to take advantage of Georgia Work Ready -- a free program that provides workers with certificates that indicate their real world skills and prove their work readiness.
"Georgia already has a great program in Work Ready, and certainly that's out there and available for potential employees right now," he said. "So that's something we'll be looking at -- if they've gone through the Work Ready program and where are they in that tier system."
State and local leaders as well as Caterpillar officials have also said was instrumental in sealing the economic development deal by offering to train employees through Quick Start, a program that provides customized workforce training free-of-charge to qualified Georgia businesses.
"The Georgia Quick Start program will be doing a lot of our pre-hire training and that hands-on training could lead to a permanent position," Henry explained.
All job opportunities will be posted to www.jointeamcaterpillar.com, and applications and resumes must be submitted online.
A Focus on Core Values and Safety
While speaking during the , Henry said Caterpillar has strong core values and prides itself in developing its employees. The company has adopted the motto "Integrity, Commitment, Excellence, and Teamwork," or ICE-T, appropriate for the South, he joked.
"We hold our employees accountable to this and we've seen these same values from the people of Athens and the state of Georgia," he said. "It's this common ground that will make this facility prosper."
Henry also spoke about safety, saying it's a priority of Caterpillar to ensure all safety measures that can be taken are put in place.
"We stress zero injuries to all employees from the shop floor to the office and all of those that do business with Caterpillar," he said.