Following Ford and Toyota, Holden shuttered its local manufacturing operations after nearly 70 years in Australia this time last year. On October 20, 2017, the nameplate began is full transition from local manufacturer to a national importer of vehicles.
And it’s been anything but smooth sailing since. The brand’s sales reached their lowest point in the company’s history in 2018, yet another new face is now leading the troubled brand and the brand has pushed pause on production of the imported ZB Commodore and Equinox. Many analysts expect tough times ahead for the brand tied so closely to Australian history for some time to come.
The end of Holden manufacturing left 950 employees without work, though Holden slowly shed hundreds of other jobs until the final day of production. Local ABC News reported last Friday that more than 80 percent of former Holden employees have found new work. Numerous officials feared the worst as Australia’s local auto industry essentially evaporated in a span of a few years. Adelaide University economist Michael O’Neil said a few factors halted doomsday predictions, however.
A handful of major projects eventually scooped up Holden’s qualified workforce, though some aren’t making the pay they were used to. The workforce’s average age was also around 42 years old, which made them ideal candidates with over 20 years of experience in some cases. In South Australia, where Holden’s Elizabeth plant was based, the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent in September.
However, for some older workers, finding a new job has been difficult. Jason Couzner, age 60, said he’s received no callbacks after sending off his resume to other employers. And he fears the unemployment rate doesn’t reflect those still riding out Holden’s redundancy packages.
The Holden employee transition center on the Elizabeth site will remain open for at least one more year to help former workers and supply chain staff transition into new careers. And the brand continues to operate an engineering workforce and design team to place its stamp on global General Motors product bound for Australian shores.