Kia says job applicants educated and experienced

The final totals are in. And it appears Kia Motors is getting a work force that is even more educated and experienced than it anticipated.

The automaker, which is constructing a 2.4 million-square-foot assembly plant in nearby West Point, Ga., said Thursday of the 43,000 applicants who responded to its recent 30-day hiring blitz, 97 percent have a high school degree or general equivalency diploma.

Nearly 30 percent have associate's or bachelor's degrees, the company said, while 74 percent have more than three years of employment under their belts.

"Truly remarkable" is how Randy Jackson, director of human resources with Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, termed the findings.

"These applicants are educated and experienced," he said in a statement. "This is a great testimony to both the quality of Georgia's work force and the effectiveness of the customized, online application and selection process developed for us by Georgia Quick Start."

Kia took applications completely via the Internet, using a Web site, www.kiajobsingeorgia.com.

About 75 percent of applicants seeking one of the 2,500 production and maintenance jobs are Georgia residents, the automaker said. Alabama residents make up 20 percent of applicants, while 5 percent come from other states.

The company currently is wading through the applications, with initial interviews expected to begin in early March. Hiring of some workers should begin in April.

South Korea-based Kia, a subsidiary of Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, is constructing its factory on more than 2,000 acres at a price tag of $1.2 billion.

The plant is expected to open in November 2009, churning out 300,000 Kia Sorento sports utility vehicles yearly.

A number of auto parts suppliers are clustering near the Kia facility, with economic officials anticipating those companies generating 3,000 more production jobs in the area.

Automotive News, an industry trade publication, reported Thursday that Kia also will build transmissions at the West Point factory as well.

The transmissions will also be shipped to a sister Hyundai plant in Montgomery, Ala., more than an hour away, the publication said. Hyundai, meanwhile, will supply Kia with engines.