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AIDT trainers Lamarius Lovejoy, from left, Frank Chestnut and Bill Brock work with a job applicant on Thursday. / Amanda Sowards/Advertiser

As of early last week, nearly 20,000 people have applied for the 877 new jobs that Montgomery’s Hyundai plant created to add a new production shift. And the applications are still coming.

“It just continues to grow,” said Scott Gordy of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama’s human resources department.

The deadline to apply is June 2, but Hyundai was so overwhelmed by the initial response that they suspended the application process on May 18 because of the high volume. Last week, HMMA issued a statement saying that it would reopen the application procedure through June 2 but warned that anyone who applies after May 18 may not have time to be processed. Gordy said later applicants will be seen “as needed” for future hires.

Everyone is applying through aidt.edu, the website for Hyundai hiring partner Alabama Industrial Development Training, which filters all of the applicants into a database and schedules the strongest candidates for assessments at HMMA.

Of the 18,500 applicants, who were in the system by May 22, an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 will make it to the assessment stage. Some get that chance immediately, while others are banked” to be assessed later.

As AIDT works to sift through the thousands of job-seekers, officials at Hyundai are working to assess those top choices. On May 14, Hyundai started screening potential workers from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week. During the one-and-a-half-hour screening, applicants take a multiple choice test and then meet with two Hyundai team members and a contracted worker for a short interview. The training center processes about 200 people a day.

“We’ve seen about 1,500 already,” Gordy said Tuesday. “I’ve been very pleased and excited to see the people coming through. They’re very eager about this opportunity. We are looking for the best of the best in the area.”

Those who make it past the screening then return for a hands-on assessment, going through a six-hour training course.

“They’re shown a very simple process for assembling something,” said HMMA spokesman Robert Burns. “It tells us that they read the instructions, they followed instructions and they put the thing together right. It won’t be a Sonata or an Elantra, it’ll just be simple instructions.”

HMMA will then send the top remaining candidates through a pre-employment screening process and offer them a job.

Most of the hiring should be finished by mid-July, but the work doesn’t end there. The new employees must then be trained, pairing up with veteran Hyundai workers. That’s all before the third shift starts rolling.

“On the HR side, it’s just monumental – for this timeframe, for that many people,” Gordy said. “But it’s also very important for our production staff as they’re having to bring in this entire shift, get them trained with experienced workers and then split out into three shifts. It’s a major undertaking.”

The third shift will begin formal training in August with the goal of full three-shift production by September 4.

“There’ll be a transition period in August to get to that point,” Burns said.

Gordy worked with AIDT during the facility’s initial hiring process before its 2005 opening, but he said the timeframe makes the current process different.

“The first time, we had a lot of time to deal with everything,” he said. “We had a year and a half to two years to bring in 1,000 people, so everything was planned and moved methodically.

“The relationship that we’ve had with AIDT has been very good in trying to get everything rolling. They’ve been working very hard to get these assessments ready for us on such short notice.”

Gordy said everything was done manually during the initial hiring for the facility, but now HMMA and AIDT can use technology to speed things up.

“We are moving through a lot of people very quickly,” he said.

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