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Elkhart RV industry works to recruit worldwide workforce

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. - Elkhart County currently faces a major worker shortage, and city leaders are working tirelessly to change that. But it’s not only companies and community leaders who are focused on the future of the RV industry, it’s the workers brought in from all over the world. And some of those employees say they fully believe the industry holds a promising future.

“We are somewhere between 85 hundred and 15 thousand positions short in Elkhart County,” said Levon Johnson President/Ceo of Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a big challenge right now as you’re trying to fill positions and get orders out, especially in the RV industry where we just had a record quarter with 50 thousand units going out and we continue to have record quarters back to back to back.”

Johnson is consistently brainstorming ways to help fill the gaps in worker shortages in Elkhart County.

“It’s different challenge. When you start looking outside of Elkhart County, obviously you’re trying to introduce people to Elkhart County if they don’t know about it. So it’s ‘is this a place for them to live?,” said Johnson.

This year, the Chamber of Commerce launched an initiative called “What’s Next”. They brought in 50 college students to see the opportunities Elkhart County and the RV industry has to offer, and hopefully, fill some of those job gaps.

“We have 6 that have been hired already, we have two that are doing internships right now and there are 3 as of the end of April that are still in the interview pipeline. The assumption is it’s all manufacturing, but you’ve got to have accountants, you’ve got to have lawyers, you’ve got to have you know so on and so forth,” said Johnson.

24-year-old Ramya Krishna Moparthi is still adjusting to her new job as a Mobile App Developer for Lippert Components. She moved to the U.S. from India to complete her masters degree in Ohio.

“I don’t drive a car so when I’m coming from there here it’s like a lot of luggage that I have to carry with me, a lot of stuff and also the thing is that I don’t know anyone here,” said Moparthi.

28-year-old Trevor Robinson, a former Notre Dame Football player and NFL star, decided to return to Michiana after a chance meeting at the end of his football career.

“I was actually back for my 5-year reunion at Notre Dame and had a chance to meet Jason Lippert,” said Robinson.

Now a Lean Coordinator for Lippert Components, Robinson says it wasn’t an easy move since he was in the middle of building a life with his family.

“It was definitely a transition having lived in larger urban environments right in the downtown areas everywhere we had been, but finding new friends and lot of that becomes through your work, social circle and network there too,” said Robinson.

But he saw the RV industry as promising and trusted his instinct.

“Within a month or two I really felt like I was part of the team there,” said Robinson.

The “What’s Next” initiative was such a success, the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce is in the process of recruiting 50 more students this September to showcase what Elkhart County and the RV industry have to offer. But these opportunities aren’t just open to college students. For more information on current available jobs in the RV industry, click here.

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