Ford employees displaced by the impending closure of the company’s Victorian manufacturing plants will benefit from an additional $25.1 million thanks to fresh support pledged by the car maker and the Federal Government.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten, and Minister for Skills Craig Emerson announced an additional $15.1 million investment, while Ford Australia has also committed $10 million to support its outgoing employees.
The investment comes on top of the state and federal governments’ commitment of almost $40 million for economic development and diversification in the local Geelong and North West Melbourne communities and $10 million for the Automotive New Markets Program – both announced on May 23, the day Ford Australia confirmed it would end vehicle production in October 2016.
The government has confirmed $5 million will be set aside from the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF) for Auto Skills Australia to coordinate labour adjustment activities and provide career advice services and training to supplement employment support services.
A further $5 million for future years’ NWDF allocations will be set aside for the future skills needs of the automotive sector should further assistance be required.
The Federal Government will also provide $470,000 in assistance to the Federation of Automotive Parts Manufacturers to support other businesses affected by Ford’s decision.
Following Ford’s announcement last month, the government has now established Geelong as a “Priority Employment Area”. As a result, a local employment coordinator will be appointed to the Geelong region providing access to $200,000 in a flexible funding pool to help workers transition into new work before or after the plant’s closure.
An Australian Jobs and Skills Expo will be held in Geelong before June 30, 2014 at a cost of over $200,000, while four smaller targeted Jobs Marts will be held at a cost of up to $100,000.
Broadmeadows is already covered under the government’s North Western Melbourne Priority Employment Area.
The $15.1 million is also in addition to the existing $51.9 million Automotive Industry Structural Adjustment Program, which provides Ford employees automatic access to Stream 3 job services support.
Information sessions have been organised for workers in Geelong and Broadmeadows to ensure Ford workers know about the range of support available to them.
Ford Australia brand communications manager Neil McDonald said the company is yet to reveal precisely where it will direct its $10 million.
Last month, Ford Australia announced its decision to end local vehicle production in 2016 due to rapidly declining sales of the Falcon large car and increasingly challenging conditions in the Australian market, signalling the death of the Falcon and Territory and the loss of 1200 jobs.