Local technical college prepared for thousands of potential Foxconn jobs

Posted at 7:28 PM, Jul 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-26 18:01:10-04

UPDATE: President Trump, Governor Walker and other leaders made it official Wedneday - Foxconn will announce $10 billion in Wisconisn. Get details here.


Earlier this month, Wisconsin Republicans said Foxconn could bring 10,000 jobs to the state. That many jobs could be difficult to fill with skilled workers but one local technical college says southeast Wisconsin is ready.

"It's extremely exciting because of the high demand and great pay that already exists for these jobs," Mike Shiels, Dean of Applied Technology at Waukesha County Technical College said.

In June, President Donald Trump visited the school when he first hinted about Foxconn coming to Wisconsin. Shiels says the president met with Foxconn in a closed door meeting at the school but was unsure of it at the time.

"We knew he was meeting with a company with Gov. Walker," Shiels said. "Beyond that, we had no idea."

Shiels says Trump took a tour of their facility and was impressed.

"His staff directed us to what areas he wanted to see when he was here," Shiels said. "All of those occupations [at Foxconn] either directly or indirectly tie to the type of manufacturing that was going on here."

WCTC currently graduates about 3,600 students per year in various fields and Shiels says they already teach several programs that could prepare students for jobs at a place like Foxconn.

"We're doing that training," Shiels said. "Students are getting great paying jobs already so it's an exciting time for people to get into this industry."

Shiels showed several machines and robots the school uses to teach its students. Many do very simple tasks, like finding letters to spell out a word or moving a ball through a maze. But these students are learning valuable techniques to program these robots to do what they ask. Valuable techniques that could help them land jobs at a place like Foxconn.

"I would predict it will be a great family sustaining wage," Shiels said. "Our graduates in these programs right now are making between $40,000 and $60,000 when they graduate. I'm anticipating these to be good paying jobs."

Shiels says they will expand their programs if the Foxconn deal goes through.

"I see us continuing to partner with high schools and other workforce development agencies to help recruit more people into those occupations," Shiels said. "I see us also developing more partnerships with our four-year transfer institutions."