Making Arizona’s workforce keep up with the jobs of the future

COOLIDGE, AZ – Since the production lines began operating last year, 37,000 high-performance Lucid electric cars have rolled off the Casa Grande assembly line. Lucid Motors is in the process of expansion. It means training workers to meet the skill requirements required in the age of high-tech manufacturing.

A few miles away, on the campus of Central Arizona College, a group of Lucid junior tech maintenance workers are busy ripping off a robotic arm – dissecting the wrist, a lesson in troubleshooting and repair.

“We are able to give them the experience of what they will see as soon as they step onto the factory floor,” said Jennifer Farner, senior manager of learning and development at Lucid Motors.

The automaker is literally writing its own history in Casa Grande. They build a 21StCentury electric car with 1,100 hp engine. It can travel 520 miles on a single charge.

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“Casa Grande has never seen anything like it. Pinal County has never seen anything like it. It’s a great opportunity for many people,” said Vicente Procela, who was born and raised in Eloy. He is one of the 1,700 Lucid employees learning new skills. Procela is working in a job he could never have imagined five years ago.

“It fills me to come home. I did something at work instead of clocking in and out,” Procela said. “I am achieving something that I can share with my son. I can tell him I’m going to school, which he’s kind of shocked about.”

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The training program is part of Drive 48, a government, industry and academia collaboration to strengthen training efforts for technical personnel in Arizona.

“At Lucid, we develop from within because the goal is to promote as many people as possible, rather than hiring from the outside,” said Farner.

Over the next few years, 6,000 Lucid employees will go through the Drive 48 program. Many will return as they progress through the company.

“Having my son see that I’m going to college at my age gives him a better perspective,” said Fernando Perez.

For some Lucid employees, the opportunity to learn and develop is transformative. Perez is a lifelong resident of Casa Grande. Before Lucid, Perez worked a job putting labels on buckets for 13 years. Now he’s learning robotics.

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“It’s a great experience to be a role model for my family and my kids, to see that it’s never too late to pursue something they want to do in life,” he said.

Perez will have the opportunity to learn other skills and develop alongside other Lucid employees as the automaker expands its presence in Pinal County.

“To move forward, we all have to work together,” Farner said. “We all have to work together to figure out what the skills are, what the competencies are, where we want to go. We design what this looks like because we have a blank slate.

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