Volkswagen officials are ready to start taking applications to hire its first hourly workers for the Chattanooga auto assembly plant.

Today (Tuesday September 8th), VW will begin accepting applications for maintenance employees who provide technical expertise to diagnose, troubleshoot and improve high-tech equipment used in manufacturing vehicles. They will help with the installation of the manufacturing equipment and maintain it.

VW plans to hire about 150 maintenance workers over the next two years, filling some 20 slots in 2009.

Starting wages will be $22 an hour, gradually increasing to $27 per hour after 36 months, company officials said. The workers will be eligible for a comprehensive benefits package, including medical and dental plans, life insurance and retirement savings, according to VW.