Workers get help as plant closing looms

Education, training offered for Kongsberg employees

September 17, 2010|By DAN DEARTH

The Western Maryland Consortium, which provides job services to unemployed adults, has been meeting with the 64 employees of Kongsberg Automotive in Hagerstown to prepare them for the factory's closure Oct. 31.

Peter Thomas, executive director of the Western Maryland Consortium, said Wednesday that a group of consortium employees visited Kongsberg Automotive on Aug. 19 to give the workers an overview of educational opportunities to boost their resumes.

"We talked about training options; we talked about educational opportunities," Thomas said. "They know what their options are."

Thomas said people who participate can receive tuition for up to one year. The money can be used for training in a variety of fields, including nursing and truck driving.

"We actually pay for the training," he said. "It's not for a four-year degree or even a two-year degree."

Thomas said he believed more Kongsberg employees would start reaching out to the consortium for further help as the Oct. 31 deadline draws closer.


"We anticipate there will be an uptake," he said.

Kongsberg Automotive, a Norway-based company that makes industrial cables, pedal systems and control systems, moved into its Hagerstown facility at 101 Western Maryland Parkway in 2008. Company officials announced in an Aug. 4 press release that the Hagerstown plant would close Oct. 31 in an effort to realize "cost savings in order to improve overall competitiveness."

The company's layoff plan was posted last month on the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation's online warning log at

The Western Maryland Consortium was formed in 1974 by the governments of Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties. In addition to providing people with information about training and educational opportunities, the consortium helps jobseekers with resume writing and interviewing techniques.

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