- After Foxconn Technology announced plans for a Wisconsin facility the size of 350 football fields, 20 million square feet, watchers began to wonder how it could possibly staff the site in a state with 2.9% unemployment. Now, it appears the employer will be taking a multi-pronged approach, targeting students, veterans and workers in other states, according to the Associated Press.
- Foxconn, an Apple supplier, will need 13,000 new employees at the facility, which will be the first LCD panel glass fabrication plant in America. The technology will be used in televisions, monitors, electronic notebooks and self-driving cars, according to the AP report.
- To meet that need, the employer is reportedly partnering with local schools to recruit students, and has retained two veterans who will work to attract as many as 3,000 more. It also is working with the state to rebrand Wisconsin, which a state spokesperson said is often viewed as "beer, cheese and Packers and sometimes cold weather." The state's economic development corporation will spend $1 million this fiscal year to promote Wisconsin's "career and lifestyle advantages" to workers in the Chicago area, and possibly those in Detroit and Minneapolis, according to the AP.
It was widely expected that Foxconn's plans would include poaching workers from other states, but the employer (and Wisconsin) is hardly alone. New Jersey, for example, is trying to woo STEM workers with the promise of loan forgiveness. And Vermont — which is facing the same aging demographic problem as Wisconsin — has offered to pay up to $10,000 to those who move there but work remotely for out-of-state employers.
Foxconn's other approaches, which target students and veterans, are more common at other employers facing talent shortages. Many are similarly partnering with state and local governments to assist with their hiring and training needs. In Alabama, for example, automakers are doing just that. A state agency offered to assist with recruiting, screening and training efforts for 4,000 employees as part of its successful effort to attract a new Toyota-Mazda plant.
For those businesses already established in the area, the potential effects are unclear. An employer near the new Foxconn site told local media that it feels confident that it will be able to compete, at least when it comes to wages. But when the question arose during speculation about Amazon's new HQ2 site, experts weren't quite as sure, saying that employers in the yet-undecided locale will face stiff competition for talent. The silver-lining, however, may be a ripple effect, whereby other business enjoy increased customer demand as a result of a larger population. Whether they'll be able to staff up to meet that demand, however, remains to be seen.