About The Program

Ford vehicle manufacturing in Australia

In May 2013 the Ford Motor Company announced that it would stop producing cars in Australia by October 2016. This announcement meant that the Ford manufacturing operations in Geelong and Broadmeadows (in Victoria) would close and this would have a direct effect on 1200 workers in the plants and several thousand workers in businesses that provided parts and services to the manufacturing operations.

The announcement underscored 88 years of automotive manufacturing for the Ford Motor Company in Australia and signalled the need for structured plans to be put in place to assist Ford workers, suppliers to the plant and other stakeholders in the transition that would occur in the years following the announcement.

Ford, and its workforce, had a long and proud history of producing Australian designed and built cars, largely for the domestic market and for much of its history it produced the number one vehicle in the country, both in terms of volume sales and brand recognition and loyalty.

A collective response

The announcement of the closure triggered an immediate response by Ford, the Australian Government and unions to ensure that all available measures were drawn upon to support Ford workers and workers in supply businesses that would be directly affected by the closure of the manufacturing operations.

In mid 2013 Task Force Groups were established to create a series of forums through which industry, key government and non-government support services could be co-ordinated to bring the best possible service provision to Ford and the supplier workforces.

A collective response was also mounted through the creation of the $50 million Automotive Innovation Fund which was designed to encourage businesses to expand their operations in regions where Ford operations would be closing.

Another part of the response from the Australian Government was the awarding of $5 million to the national automotive industry training advisory body, Auto Skills Australia (ASA) to support the transition of workers from their current jobs into other meaningful employment as the plants close down. This funding also had to take into account external workers affected by the plant closures and in particular those who manufactured automotive parts that were used in Australian built Ford vehicles. ASA, Ford and the unions developed this transition strategy and the program is called the Ford Transition Program.

About the Ford Transition Program

The Transition Program has a key focus of assisting workers through the recognition of their current skills and re-skilling, where needed, to ensure they have the right skills to find employment once they leave their current employer.

For some, re-skilling may mean they build upon their manufacturing skills in preparation for a job in that sector. For others, they may train for another role where they know there are employment opportunities and other career paths.

Through negotiations with individuals and with the support of Ford management, ASA will engage with external training providers to deliver up skilling and recognition programs to equip workers with the skills they need to gain employment or other meaningful roles in the community.

How will skills recognition and up-skilling be achieved?

It is anticipated that Ford and external supply businesses will bring their own Human Resource and administration energies to this task. This includes discussing with their employees what their individual transition process might look like and how individuals can engage with government services designed to assist displaced workers.

In addition, the Transition Program has dedicated staff available to all displaced workers at operational levels, in support roles and in management roles. Program staff can assist individuals and employers in linking with external training and support agencies and by undertaking individual skills analysis to help individuals see where their skills can be best placed for employment or where up-skilling may be needed.

Amongst those services available for re-skilling is the Victorian Government’s Workers in Transition Program. This program has special funding for the training of personnel affected by redundancy in Victoria. This program is able to provide funds for training to personnel who may not normally have been able to access training funds. A Transition Program Co-ordinator or a designated training provider will be able to make an assessment of someone’s eligibility to train under this program. Funding capacity from the Victorian Workers in Transition Program will vary between individuals based on their training history.

To have a Transition Program Coordinator see you or your business, go the Ford Transition Program website at autoskillsaustralia.com.au and go to the transition program link or call the ASA program Coordinator on 0417 393 158.

What other advisory services will be offered through the program?

The Transition Program also has a key role in working with external service and support agencies to ensure workers have as much information as possible available to them to support an individual’s transition from their current role into a new role. While some of this information is available directly through agencies, like Job Services Australia, the Program Co-ordinators will arrange for government and non-government services to come into the workplace to give group information sessions or to meet with individuals, either in the workplace or outside of work.

Typical information sessions that may be useful to workers include information on:

• Superannuation
• Personal health and wellbeing
• Managing redundancy payments
• Job Services Australia
• Centrelink
• Financial Education
• Transition to retirement

Keeping an eye on the Ford Transition Website will help you know when information sessions are being planned and how you can book into one of the sessions. For employers external to the Ford plant they should call one of the Program Coordinators so they can arrange for information sessions in their workplace.

There are a broad range of government and non-government organisations who have come together to support the Workers in Transition program. Employers, employer association and unions have also played a crucial role in the establishment and leadership of this initiative. Funding for this program has been provided by the Australian Government Department of Industry.