Gateway Technical College, MATC preparing for Foxconn

Expert warns manufacturers who have not stayed current will be left behind

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Gateway Technical College and Milwaukee Area Technical College are preparing for one of the world’s largest manufacturers to build a new factory in southeastern Wisconsin.

Gateway, which has campuses in Racine, Kenosha and Elkhorn, is building a training platform around advanced manufacturing to help fill the pipeline of new jobs Foxconn Technology Group could bring to the region.

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President Donald Trump will make an announcement today that the Taiwanese manufacturing giant will build a liquid-crystal display (LCD) factory in Wisconsin. The site has not yet been chosen, but many have speculated it will be located in Racine County along I-94.

Bloomberg is reporting Foxconn is expected to employ about 3,000 people in the beginning after an initial $10 billion investment. The number of jobs could increase to more than 10,000 employees over time.

“We are pleased to hear that Foxconn is interested in southeast Wisconsin,” said Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht. “Gateway has a strong history of working with employers of all sizes to build a skilled talent pipeline. The opportunity to support our community and Foxconn is at the core of our mission. Gateway Technical College is positioned well for new economy jobs and the training that Foxconn will require.”

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Gateway’s Computer Numerical Control boot camp, which trains students for a base in advanced automation and careers in skilled manufacturing, will prepare the next generation for Foxconn, Albrecht said.

“Companies like Foxconn are built on automation and system inter-operability,” he said.

At MATC, president Vicki Martin said the school is fully prepared to assist Foxconn in any way possible.

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“As Wisconsin’s largest technical college, MATC serves more than 36,000 students each year with more than 200 program areas, which include robotics, electronics, engineering, information technology and automated controls,” Martin said.

If Foxconn needs more specialized programming, the school can quickly modify its offerings and customize its training, she said.

“Once we get more information and know specifically what they are looking at we can develop specific training,” Martin said. “That is what we do; we talk to employers and then develop a curriculum to meet the outcomes for employer need. If they can’t wait for that, then we have customized training under our Workforce Solutions Department and find a faculty member who is working for us or hire someone to do the training that is needed.”

Buckley Brinkman, executive director and CEO of the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity, anticipates Foxconn’s new factory, which is reported to be a $10 billion investment for the state, will be completely automated.

“What they are talking about is not your father’s or grandfather’s crafts person,” Brinkman said. “This requires a very different skill set than either a person standing at the end of the line doing mindless work or the craft person of days gone by.”

Brinkman believes Foxconn will recruit its employees from training programs, like Gateway or MATC, but also want experienced workers, which they will find by recruiting people from other states and also poaching employees from other area manufacturers.

“The people who are going to be the most impacted are the lower-end manufacturers who have not gotten on the journey to automate or upgrade,” Brinkman said. “The dark side of this is if you are not ready or engaged in this technology, you are going to be one of the losers because your employees are going to leave you for the bright, shiny new factory.”

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