Want to work for Foxconn? Area colleges can help you get the degree you need

Madison College dean anticipates enrollment bump

As Foxconn aims to expand its Wisconsin workforce to more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs, colleges across the state have discussed potential partnerships with company representatives, including Madison College.

Foxconn’s $10 billion manufacturing campus in Racine County will employ up to 13,000 skilled workers. It will be so large that 100 Camp Randall stadiums can fit inside of it. The good news is the company expects many Wisconsinites to fill those jobs. The state’s higher education system produces about 75,000 graduates each year.

Want to work for Foxconn? Area colleges can help you get the degree you need

While other employers across Wisconsin are competing for that young talent, recent grads don’t always find the jobs they want in the state and end up looking outside Wisconsin’s borders.

But the prospect of well-compensated jobs at home many entice more to stay put upon graduation.

“Madison college students, in order to prepare for this, are taking advance of some of the courses that are available,” said Denise Reimer, Madison College Dean of Applied Science, Engineering, and Technology. “They need that technical training to prepare them for those entry-level jobs. Then, employers are helping those students grow with their technical training when they’re on that job. We’re seeing companies be very creative on how to attract that talent.”

When the new plant is operating at full capacity, Foxconn will employee more than 13,000 people in Wisconsin by the year 2023. Because of the company’s size, it will lose a significant amount of money if it doesn’t have all positions filled by the time it opens. For every minute of downtime at Foxconn, the company is projected to lose $1.5 million.

Reimer said she thinks there will be increased demand for jobs specifically in information technology, network security and advanced manufacturing, as well as transportation: diesel, automotive and construction.

“The competition is among the technical fields,” said Reimer. “So if I’m someone who’s interested right now in working with my hands and problem solving, I could go into transportation, I could go into construction, I could go into manufacturing, I could go into information technology. I think students are in a perfect position right now to be very competitive in the market and command a really family-supporting wage.”

Want to work for Foxconn? Area colleges can help you get the degree you need

Madison College is in the process of developing an advanced manufacturing Associate Degree program. Most of the courses involved already exist, between Mechanical Design, Automated Manufacturing Systems Technology, Industrial Maintenance Technology, and Information Technology.

“We do have to do things differently though here at the tech colleges,” said Reimer. “We have to reach people we haven’t traditionally reached. When you think about Foxconn, and potentially 13 to 15,000 jobs, where are those people going to come from?”

The opening of the new Foxconn plant is expected to cause a ripple effect across the state, not just in terms of college enrollment, but wages and salaries across the state. More jobs means more competition, so salaries are expected to rise after the new plant opens.

Foxconn is one of the world’s largest companies, with one million employees globally. It’s expected to attract some workers with no previous ties to Wisconsin, from the Chicago area to outside the U.S.

The Foxconn groundbreaking and the imminence of 13,000 jobs comes at a time when Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at a historic low. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s just more than 3 percent, and a significant number of workers are actually under-employed.

Statistics from the Bureau over time have confirmed that people who leave Wisconsin for opportunities elsewhere would return and stay, if they could land a job that paid competitively.