Last year, Ford began offering a buyout package that covers schooling, following an internal 2005 study that showed many of its younger workers would leave if given a chance to attend college. Under this plan, Ford agrees to pay former workers half of their annual pay for four years -- typically $25,000 to $30,000 annually -- plus health-care benefits and up to $15,000 each year for school. Workers surrender retiree health benefits but retain whatever Ford pensions they've earned.
Ford says 40% of its former workers who are going to school are studying in medical fields -- more than half specializing in nursing, followed by radiology, dental hygiene and pharmacology. "Health care is where the jobs are," says Marty Mulloy, Ford's head of labor relations, who helped develop Ford's education buyout plan and is handling this summer's UAW contract talks.
My natural confirmation bias kicks in here. Five years ago, I predicted that people would move into health care from other industries. But I wrote about record store employees as prototypical job losers. But one year later, I did write about the inevitable shift from manufacturing.
I would warn some of the young health care workers mentioned in the WSJ story that Aubrey de Grey has some ideas that might make transform that sector.