Foxconn recruits NWTC students

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As its presence grows in Wisconsin, representatives with Foxconn Technology Group visited Green Bay Wednesday to recruit and interview students at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

As we reported in 2017, the Taiwanese company chose southeastern Wisconsin as the site of a new display screen factory. It's being built in Mount Pleasant in Racine County. Foxconn agreed to invest $10 billion in the project and hire up to 13,000 people.

The company then announced plans to build innovation centers in other parts of the state. It purchased the Watermark Building along the riverfront in downtown Green Bay more than a year ago for that purpose.

But as we reported just last week, little has been done with that project or similar ones around the state. Green Bay development officials told us they're not concerned with the lack of progress and said Foxconn is paying taxes on the Watermark.

In a statement to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Foxconn said its main focus right now is its Racine County plant.

That focus includes an "earn and learn" program aimed at students.

Throughout the month of October, Foxconn has been on a mission around Wisconsin.

"Our interest and our priority in terms of reaching out to the higher education system throughout the state of Wisconsin," Foxconn Director of Commercial Development Shawn McComb said.

Wednesday at NWTC, 50 students listened to a presentation and interviewed with Foxconn.

They're applying for the company's earn and learn program, which pays $15 an hour, offers benefits and six months of training starting in January -- all while students complete their degrees.

McComb told students there's a war for talent right now, and that's why Foxconn is reaching out to students prior to graduation.

"One of the things that Foxconn is bringing in to this state is some real thinking about what's the state of manufacturing down the road and more talk about machine intelligence, artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing and those kinds of things, and so if you want to be part of an enterprise that's going to be on the leading edge, this is a real possibility," NWTC President Jeff Rafn said.

"They have so much to offer, a lot of different opportunities to grow, so I think that's really something that appeals to me," NWTC student Brenda Thompson said.

Rafn says it's important to expose students to a company investing billions of dollars in the state.

"If you can get a job with what is essentially a startup operation, there's no limit in terms of where you can end up in the end," Rafn said.

At the NWTC event, we tried asking Foxconn about its plans for the Watermark Building. The company told us it was not taking questions.