How Hyundai's Georgia Metaplant Will Attract and Train its Workforce
Of the traditional automakers, the Hyundai Motor Group has been one of the leaders in electrification. It's not only been introducing new EVs to the market via its Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands at a steady clip but it's done so without major delays in bringing those vehicles to market.
Hyundai had planned on bringing battery and EV manufacturing to the United States, but the Inflation Reduction Act turbo-charged the company's roadmap. Under the rules of the IRA, no Hyundai Motor Group vehicle is available for any of the $7,500 tax credits (unless it's leased) because the EVs are built in Korea with batteries from that country. The Metaplant will change that.
Located in Ellabell, Georgia (approximately 30 miles east of Savannah), the Metplant facility (a joint venture with LG Energy Solutions) will consist of a battery manufacturing factory and an automotive assembly line for the Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis EVs. Slated to begin production by the end of 2025, the site will create up to 8,500 jobs when fully operational.
It's a huge headcount and a massive opportunity for the local area and those looking into moving into a position in the sustainability field. To help those eyeing the Metaplant as a career opportunity we spoke with senior manager/head of learning and development at Hyundai Motor Group's Metaplant America Brent Stubbs about what they're looking for at the location.
"Recently someone was asking me, 'What is meta?' Really it's going beyond and transcending what we think of in traditional plants," Stubbs said. The location's name permeates the entire institution. New Employees are called "Meta Pros." It's Hyundai Motor Group's global benchmark regarding the factory's sustainability, design, size, and scope. It's nearly an all-in-one facility for the production of EVs.
But it needs people to run it.
The first order of business is recruiting experienced professionals. Bringing in people from outside the area, with a vast knowledge of what's needed to spin up a factory of this magnitude. But that's just a sliver of the personnel needed.
Hyundai has worked with four local technical colleges to help teach the skills needed at the facility. They've built a 160-hour, eight-credit certificate program called the "electric vehicle professional." The program lays out the automotive basics with an emphasis on an understanding of working with and on EVs.
For those not in the Ellabell, Georgia area SAE and InnoEnergy have partnered up to offer an online Battery Academy. The program offers a comprehensive approach that's suited for those new to battery technology all the way up to seasoned professionals looking to increase their knowledge.
Stubbs does highlight some of the specific skills the company requires for certain jobs. For instance, for the industrial and machine maintenance positions, Hyundai is searching for applicants with both mechanical and electrical backgrounds. Having PLC, ladder logic, and troubleshooting experience is critical to keep the factory humming along. "Right now, if someone is out there with a mechanical background, adding electrical is really going to go a long way," Stubbs remarked.
On the production side, electric vehicle safety is extremely critical. Fortunately, Hyundai offers training and is keen for those with an OEM background to join its team. "What I'd hate is for someone on the other side of the country to think 'I need to do something before I make the move.'" Stubbs said.
What is really important to Hyundai is for potential employees to have a positive outlook, share the vision, and are excited about what the company is trying to accomplish.
"We would love to hire experienced talent, but we're also very willing to hire people that don't have an OEM background and provide significant training," Stubbs said.
Currently, production teams in the paint and weld shops and the general assembly shop stamp division are being trained.
When production begins in 2025, Hyundai anticipates that will have filled about half of the eventual 8,500 jobs. As it ramps up production the facility's headcount will increase eventually hitting that 8,500 number. It's going to take a few years to get there and those looking at the Metaplant as a career opportunity have time to gather experience and knowledge required by Hyundai.
When complete the Metplant will have a massive walking park, cafe, expo center, water elements, and green spaces. "That's the environment we're looking to attract talent to," Stubbs said. A factory surrounded by green spaces, to build greener vehicles. For those looking to get into the sustainable job market, it's a compelling draw.