- Amid a struggle to find engineers and other candidates in a tight labor market, Foxconn Technology Group reportedly planned to hire Chinese personnel to staff the southern Wisconsin plant it's constructing, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The company had initially said it would target students, veterans and workers in other states to fill the 13,000 openings.
- But Foxconn, an Apple supplier, denied the shift in a statement: "We can categorically state that the assertion that we are recruiting Chinese personnel to staff our Wisconsin project is untrue." The company has tried to bring Chinese engineers to the facility through internal transfers, WSJ said, according to "people familiar with the matter."
- The state of Wisconsin has set aside about $4 billion in subsidies for Foxconn to build the new plant, Gizmodo reported. Subsidies for Foxconn's new facility could cost Wisconsin taxpayers between $220,000 to $1 million for each job it creates. The company received a smog exemption from outgoing Gov. Scott Walker through the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt. The company reportedly will extract about seven million gallons of water a day from Lake Michigan, possibly creating environmental problems for the region, Gizmodo found.
President Trump has backed the Foxconn project and took part in the ground-breaking ceremony with the company's founder and chairman. What's ahead for the project is uncertain now, with Walker losing his bid for reelection as Wisconsin's governor, taxpayers looking at a big bill and possible threats to the region's environment.
Regardless of Foxconn's plans, there's no denying that the tight labor market and Wisconsin's particularly low unemployment rate will make finding enough American workers for its plant a difficult task. If it sticks to its original plan, it will likely need to partner with schools and governments to attract candidates.
Hiring STEM workers is an even bigger challenge for companies like Foxconn. Some employers are engaging in poaching practices, and others are offering higher salaries to attract scientists, tech specialists, engineers and mathematicians. Employers can expect the competition for tech talent to get even stiffer, as the demand for tech skills grows.