Tough time for Chicagoland auto workers

CHICAGO For those coming out of the automotive industry, new placement will likely take time, education and training.

In the last month, Ford laid off nearly 800 workers at the assembly plant on South Torrence Avenue.

The National Able Network office in Calumet City has seen an increase in laid off auto industry workers looking for job placement.

Among them is LaTonya Hughes, with nearly two years at Ford, and her boyfriend Jerado Harrison, with six months in Ford's body shop. Hughes had to warn their boy's that Christmas would be tight this year.

"This year, I had to tell them because I'm not working, some things you might not get until after Christmas or after the first of the year. So it's going to be pretty hard for me," said LaTonya Hughes, former Ford employee.

They were laid off last month. Now they're looking for anything. Harrison was in car sales before Ford, but finding a job related to anything automotive is doubtful.

"Oh, wow. I've been to a lot of different places," said Jerado Harrison, former Ford employee.

As a medical assistant, Harrison faces the challenge of taking classes the be certified while out of work.

"For me to do that I have to go back to where I graduated from to get certified or get certified online and pay $125 to do that. And it's really hard to do that when you don't have that type of income to pay it," said Hughes.

Ford isn't the only manufacturing employer cutting jobs. National Able Network's training manager in Calumet City has seen many manufacturing jobs cut on the South Side of Chicago and south suburbs. He says most of those workers need help transferring their skills to other industries like service or healthcare.

"They're going to have to prepare themselves either through training and also look at areas of networking with other people in other industries to fit their financial needs for future employment," said Ron Lewis, National Able Network.

For Hughes and Harrison, cutting back on the holidays and expanding the job search is what they'll do. They hope to secure work before they run through their savings.

National Able Network has other offices in the Chicago area. Starting next year, they're planning on a specialized training for laid off auto workers. National Able is bracing for more auto workers in need of job placement assistance.

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