SSMRC director promotes our workforce to auto-industry leaders in Tennessee

FROM LEFT: Jeff Smith, Central Region director for the SSMRC; Vanessa Preston, human resources manager for Ford BlueOval City; and Rick Youngblood, executive director of the Tennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association

SSMRC Central Region Director Jeff Smith promoted our recruitment and training capabilities April 13 when he met with leaders of the Tennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association and Ford’s BlueOval City project under construction near Memphis.

The meeting took place during TAMA’s Spring Conference, held at the West Tennessee AgResearch Center in Jackson, Tennessee. Smith talked with Rick Youngblood, executive director of TAMA, and Vanessa Preston, human resources manager for Ford’s BlueOval City.

“Finding and growing a local workforce with the right skillsets within the Stanton area was a major concern for Ford’s Vanessa Preston,” Smith said. “I disclosed that we are in the process of purchasing a training facility near Memphis to support the recruitment and training of the local workforce within the surrounding areas.”

Smith said Preston and Youngblood were impressed with the SSMRC’s initiative and eager to tour the training facility when it opens.

“I told them recruitment and training are our priorities,” Smith said. “My message was that we appreciate the opportunity to work with them and Walbridge [the general contractor for BlueOval City] as partners.”

Machinery installation at BlueOval City, which will produce electric F-Series pickups and advanced batteries, will require hundreds of union millwrights. BlueOval City is the largest auto-production complex in Ford Motor Company’s history, and the company committed to building it with union labor.

As a member, you can qualify to work at BlueOval City by contacting your training department and making sure you have all the certifications that would make you marketable to the automotive industry. A good showing by our members at BlueOval City will guarantee not only continued work at that facility but at many other EV and battery plants set to be constructed in the South.

“Our members must show up for work with the right skillsets and the right attitude while maintaining focus on safety,” Smith said.

The theme of the TAMA conference was “How to Make the Transition to EVs.” Discussions and presentations at the TAMA conference covered: