TRAVERSE CITY, MI – One problem auto makers have in filling skilled jobs is “outdated perceptions of what it’s like to work in the auto industry.”

That’s the view of Sean Vander Elzen, senior manager-global talent acquisition for General Motors.

GM knows it must appeal to a new breed in its hiring practices, in particular the under-30 Millenials that now number 40 million Americans, with another 40 million “coming up behind them,” Vander Elzen says in a panel discussion at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars here.

GM’s strategy takes some dramatic twists. A recent spot on MTV features a stunt skateboarder barrel-rolling a subcompact Chevrolet Sonic as it’s launched from an oversized skateboard ramp.

Vander Elzen says there’s an information-technology transformation taking place that “requires new skills not (needed) in the company before.” This new dynamic means attracting younger Americans raised on the Internet and smartphones.

GM also is promoting its technical prowess in new vehicles such as the Chevy Volt and ’13 Cadillac ATS compact luxury car. Vander Elzen concedes recruiting in the Detroit area is “a challenge,” given recent regional downsizing and the allure of high-tech jobs in Silicon Valley.

Fellow panelist Amy Cell, senior vice president-talent enhancement at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., outlines numerous state programs aimed at connecting job seekers with employers including MiTalent.org,which contains more than 600,000 resumes.

Others try to entice expatriate Michigan natives and top graduates to return home to work. The MEDC also has a program to recruit top talent for jobs in the city of Detroit and provide IT training to help upgrade professional skills.

Career fairs and science camps also are sponsored by the MEDC, Cell points out.

Charles Streeter, senior manager-global talent acquisition at MSX International, a major supplier of temporary employees, makes a strong case for experienced contract workers to meet auto maker and supplier demand for labor.

Contract workers permit employers to maintain an agile and flexible “blended” workforce overall, he says. “We see contract workers as a game-changer.”