Training for jobs part of preparing for VinFast arrival

CCCC starts planning for job readiness, targeted training

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It’s too soon to start applying for any of the expected 7,500 jobs at the VinFast electric-vehicle plant planned for eastern Chatham County, but Central Carolina Community College is planning to help the company train aspiring employees.

The college, which has campuses in Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties, will train people who’d like to be considered for jobs at the Moncure-area plant, as well as provide more in-depth training once they’re on board with VinFast, according to Margaret Roberton, college vice president for workforce development.

Preparing the workforce is part of the package of state incentives outlined in the memorandum of understanding VinFast signed to build a factory at the Triangle Innovation Point near the unincorporated community of Moncure. Announced on March 30, the plant is North Carolina’s first full-scale automobile assembly plant and is widely considered the largest economic development project in state history. The company said it plans to invest at least $2 billion on what it described as the first phase; average annual wages are expected to be around $51,100.

As part of the incentive package, VinFast is eligible for $38 million in workforce training funds to support recruitment, pre-hire assessments and training, and post-hire training for new employees, Roberton said — work the college and its peers in North Carolina’s community college system regularly do.

Not all employees will come from Chatham County, however — CCCC will work with other institutions in the region, such as Wake Technical Community College and Durham Technical Community College, Roberton added.

“Central Carolina Community College is the higher education entity serving Chatham County where VinFast will be located and will take the lead on providing these services to the company,” she told the News + Record.

VinFast has not yet announced which jobs and occupations the plant will require, but a company spokesman told the News + Record that it’s too early in the planning stages to specify. The company previously said it expects to break ground later this year and to make the first vehicles there by July 2024.

They won’t take too long to prepare the workforce, however.

“I would expect we will spend the better part of this next several months really working with them, trying to figure out what it is that they need, what is this going to look like and what is that schedule going to be,” Roberton said. “And then working with everyone in the community to say, here’s your opportunity, here’s how you access them.”

Roberton said she anticipates that occupations will be in three main categories: operators, engineering and technical, and management and professional. While the college hasn’t spoken with VinFast regarding the specific skill sets required, she said, “I would anticipate that they would need individuals with skills across a spectrum of areas, including industrial systems, electrical, engineering technologies, mechatronics and robotics.”

CCCC provides training in several of these areas and will increase both types of programming and capacity offered at its Moore Manufacturing & Biotech Solutions Center. The center is housed in a former auto-components manufacturing center near Sanford.

The company will need a variety of skill sets, Chatham County Development Corporation President Michael Smith told the News + Record. Those include assembly workers, warehouse workers, operators, assembly technicians, supervisors, quality technicians, maintenance technicians, battery chemistry engineers and multiple types of engineers, as well as office managers and logistics people.

“I think one of the many good things about this is they need so many people, and a variety of skill sets,” Smith said. “And as much as we love our life science operations all over and they’re dramatically positive ... with an automotive assembly facility, you’ll be able to bring in workers that don’t necessarily have that skill level that ultimately can get up to it. But I think that this company can reach a wider range of people.”

In addition, another 5,000 jobs for Chatham County residents are expected from spin-off companies by 2030, with $250 million in annual income to employees who live in the county, Smith said.

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