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Jerry Conover
Indiana Business Research Center

Lisa Hart
Center for Automotive Research

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2011

IU center involved in conference and study: 'Driving Change: Greening the Automotive Workforce'

April 27, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business is one of the organizers of a conference taking place next week outside Detroit on the transformation of the auto industry.

Driving Change

Timothy Slaper, research director of the IBRC, will help present findings from a major report he co-authored, "Driving Change: Greening the Automotive Workforce."

The conference of the same name will take place May 3-4 in Dearborn, Mich., and will include tours of General Motors' auto battery testing facilities and several production sites for A123 Systems batteries and Ford Motor Co.'s energy-efficient vehicles. Most of the conference will take place at the Ford Conference and Event Center.

The event is the capstone of an 18-month U.S. Department of Labor study, and led by the state Labor Market Information Offices in Indiana (the Indiana Department of Workforce Development), Michigan and Ohio in cooperation with the IBRC, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) and Case Western University's Weatherhead School of Business.

Research results will be unveiled during the sessions on Tuesday (May 4).

Jerry Conover, director of the IBRC, said he thinks the conference will interest those who manage public-sector workforce training programs, private-sector employment counselors, government officials, economic development leaders and educators.

"We envision a rather diverse audience -- people who want to help displaced workers improve their chances to get jobs that will remain in demand," Conover said, noting that the size of the work force at auto industry employers in the three-state region was cut in half over the past decade.

"Hundreds of thousands of people are out looking for jobs and not all of them are going to find positions back in the auto industry. It will never be that large again," he added. "At the same time, there are jobs that will be growing in the auto industry. The report examines the kinds of changes in knowledge, skills and perspectives workers are going to need to make electric and hybrid vehicles and other aspects of the green trend in the auto sector."

Speakers representing industry, labor, workforce and academic organizations will paint a picture of the future of the industry, the impact technology is having on employment and how workforce needs are evolving. Leah Jamieson, dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University, also will be a presenter.

"As green technologies take hold, the pace of change in automotive products and processes is accelerating. We're seeing new hires, as well as an effort to infuse green skills to incumbent workers throughout the industry -- and beyond," said Kristin Dziczek, a conference organizer and director of the Labor and Industry Group at CAR. "This conference will explore what skills are in demand, what career pathways are available to workers, and what can be done to ensure the industry will continue to have the skilled workers it needs to succeed."

Registrations are still being accepted. The cost is $200 for the entire program or $65 for only the reception on May 3 at the Henry Ford Museum. More information is available online at