Editorial: Ford investment will give new economic opportunities to students

College is hard. Getting a job after can be even harder.

On the bright side, a recent $9 billion investment to Ford plants in the U.S. will help students interested in co-ops and internships get the real world experience needed to make that transition.

Students, especially those studying engineering, often participate in co-ops, where they spend whole semesters outside of the classroom to experience a professional work environment.

The Ford website states that co-ops are a partnership between students, the university and itself. If students are successful, they will be considered for employment after graduation.

According to Cindy Edwards, coordinator of experiential education at the Stuckert Career Center, and Ray Clere, assistant dean for career and academic exploration, UK already has a partnership with Ford, but focuses more on employing graduates with associate’s degrees.

Internships and experiences that Ford could potentially offer will set students apart and out-of-state students from Ohio will be able to work at plants that are closer to home. This will cut down costs as students are able to access resources closer to their families.

“We have had a relationship with Ford for at least 10 years,” said Marsha Phillips, who heads the engineering co-op program. “It hasn’t been consistent due to the economy, but they have had a major impact on the lean manufacturing program here in engineering.”

UK has had five co-ops with Ford since 2004, as well as Lean Manufacturing Boot Camps, which allow students to learn industry-specific techniques in two weeks.

Despite the inconsistencies in the program because of funding, Donna Hewett,  lecturer in the College of Engineering, said, “A modest flow of students have continued to have opportunities with Ford.”

Hewett said Ford’s new allotment of funds provides an increased incentive for the local plants, and “may translate into increased recruiting on their part.”

While Ford has a long history of million dollar investments in the state, the recent investment comes after criticism from its $2.5 billion investment in a plant in Mexico. Without criticism and pressure to create jobs in America, it is hard to say if Ford would have made such a grandiose investment.

UK students and Kentuckians cannot be too upset about how the money made its way to our economy. An investment to the U.S., and hopefully to Kentucky and Ohio, of this magnitude will undoubtedly do wonders for the economy and provide students with job experience and opportunities.

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