A new factory to create jobs, but will they be good?

April 3—Few things excite the people of West Virginia more than the news that a new industry is coming to the state and creating jobs with it.

Earlier this month, Sparkz Inc. announced plans to open an electric battery “Gigafactory” in West Virginia by the end of 2022, though the specific location has yet to be decided.

The new Sparkz facility will focus on cobalt-free lithium batteries in hopes of filling supply chain gaps. At present, China dominates the production of lithium-ion batteries. Not only does it manufacture the finished product, but it is the world’s third largest producer of unrefined lithium behind Australia and Chile. Overall, the Asian superpower controls about 72% of the global electric battery market from start to finish, according to One Charge.

Even though the United States is not a big producer of lithium (there are only a few viable deposits), bringing the later stages of production to the United States allows America to be more self-sufficient and to promote local jobs. That said, advances in technology have uncovered how to extract lithium from seawater and geothermal brine. As the technology becomes cheaper and more refined, we could see more lithium being harvested locally.

Overall, this electric battery factory is a small step towards cleaner energy and filling gaps in the supply chain, but on a smaller, more local scale, this factory is a big deal.

Sparkz has pledged to hire ex-coal miners, and West Virginia will likely receive about $1 million in federal funds for a recycling initiative.

This won’t be the first time Mountain State has attempted to retrain former miners. Such programs have been around since at least 2019, but previous attempts haven’t been very successful.

As Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said a few years ago, there are many examples of programs that have retrained former miners very well in a new trade, but there there were no jobs available. And when there are, the jobs don’t offer comparable wages, but instead start people at $12 to $15 an hour, or even as low as minimum wage.

When the pay isn’t there — or the jobs, period — retrained workers leave for greener pastures and that can mean out of state.

So while we’re as excited as the rest of the state to hear of Sparkz’s plans to build a plant here and employ ex-miners, we hope Sparkz commits to paying these workers not only a decent salary, but a salary that reflects the years of work. they’ve already invested and the time and effort it’s taken to learn new skills so they can be the employees Sparkz needs.

If not, welcoming the new industry will have done little to improve West Virginia’s economic situation, and worse, it may even get rid of some of the hardest working people. hardliners from West Virginia.

Source link

About Bob C. Zoller

Check Also

Amazon India claims to have created more than 11.6 million jobs; $5 billion export permit

Amazon India said on Sunday that it has cumulatively created more than 11.6 lakh direct …