GLIWICE, Poland - As an 18-year-old, Scott Mackie spent a short period of time before college as an automotive line worker. He mounted pedals and brake assemblies, and his training for the job was minimal.
Today, as managing director of General Motors Poland, Mackie is recruiting 2,000 people for the Astra production plant he is setting up at Gliwice in southern Poland. Each new line worker will receive about 450 hours of training before being allowed on the production line.
During 1988-90 Mackie learned the art of Japanese assessment and training techniques as treasurer and director of CAMI Automotive Inc. in Ingersoll, Ontario. The lesson stuck in his mind.
'They were very different from anything I had seen in GM,' he says of the Suzuki Motor Co. and GM joint venture. 'People used to get jobs because a family member was already working in the plant or because they had a friend who did.'
Today, prospective workers must pass a multistage assessment process. After completing an application form, potential Gliwice workers are assessed on their dexterity, group-working and communication skills. The managerial ability of those workers applying for supervisor posts is also tested.
'By the time you are done with this process, not only have you picked the best, but they have also picked you,' he says. 'They'll know by the end what it is going to be like to work in a car plant.'
For the jobs at Gliwice, GM has handed out more than 80,000 application forms and received 30,000 back. The multistage assessment process will enable the numbers to be whittled down so that training can commence. Production of the Astra is due to start in September.