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Hyundai, Savannah Tech to partner
Hyundai, Sav Tech partnership

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Effingham Herald

With the goal of providing a pathway to employment for coastal Georgia residents, and to have a steady stream of a skilled workforce, Savannah Technical College and the Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America signed a Memorandum of Understanding May 10.

The signing took place at the main campus of Savannah Technical College in Savannah.

Autonation Hyundai of Savannah provided the main prop of a dark grey 2023 Ioniq 5 hatchback — one of the models that is slated to be produced at the Bryan County plant.

“In recent years we’ve seen the need for skilled workers in the manufacturing industry and technical colleges have been stepping up to provide the necessary education and training to meet that need,” said Dr. Kathy Love, president of Savannah Technical College.

The first program with this partnership is a new “Electric Vehicle Professional” certificate starting next semester at Savannah Technical College. Students who successfully complete the program will be preferred for employment with HMGMA.

“HMGMA is excited to work with Savannah Technical College now and for many years to come. This partnership gives the community a clear pathway to employment at our exciting and cutting-edge smart factory,” said Oscar Kwon, CEO and president of HMGMA.

This certificate was designed at the request of Hyundai to prepare students for entry-level employment in the electric vehicle production industry. Training emphasis will be placed on safe and effective automotive shop operations, automotive electrical principles, and operation and service of electric vehicles. Graduates will have the skill set to work in sub-assembly shops, building components. They could also work on the production floor to manufacture electric vehicles.

This eight-credit-hour certificate includes three courses, which can be completed in about eight weeks if a student attends full time. The College plans to offer this training at its Savannah and Liberty campuses with plans to expand to the Effingham campus.

Dr. Love added the program will be approved by the state board at its June meeting and she indicated the first classes could be offered as soon as the summer, but more likely in fall 2023.

“This new program is going to lead to our general production, team jobs, and these are going to be jobs with great benefits working inside of our new plant building beautiful cars,” said Brent Stubbs, senior manager of learning and development with HMGMA.

“We’re looking at starting pay of $23.20 an hour ($48,000+/year) for people who complete this program,” Stubbs added. “It’s really a ‘preferred pathway’ to a great job.”

According to Stubbs, around 1,000 positions will be need to be filled starting in January 2024.

“In January, we’re going to hire 200, and another 800 the rest of next year in 2024. And we hope to hire many of those individuals from this program,” Stubbs said. “We know that people complete this program will be electric vehicle professionals. They’re going to understand what we’re building (with) that product at the end.

“We’re hoping to move to the plant in the early part of 2024. We’ll go in and start testing and then by the end of the year, we’ll start mass production,” Stubbs added.

The Memorandum of Understanding signing was the result of “many months” of work between Savannah Tech and HMGMA, and that process will be ongoing, according to Stubbs.

“Our HR team is going to be engaged in the hiring process. Then our learning and development team will continue to work with professors and instructors to make sure the curriculum meets all their (Hyundai’s) needs,” Stubbs explained.

While the hiring for the manufacturing plant is to be started soon, office staff are being sought now to work in HMGMA’s temporary office on Hutchinson Island.

“Almost every position – employee relations, public relations, finance, engineering,” added Scott (Seokkwang) Oh, senior manager, head of human resources. And the company does not require employees to be bilingual in English and Korean.

“Rumor. Totally not true,” added Stubbs.

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