Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Ray Allen announced Monday a new training program to train 167 unemployed Racine residents and another 15 incumbent employees with the city. Funding includes $500,000 from the city of Racine, $400,000 from the state Department of Workforce Development’s Wisconsin Fast Forward program, a $100,000 grant from the Gateway Foundation and $500,000 in wage subsidies from United Migrant Opportunity Services.
The Racine Works initiative will serve dual purposes - training unemployed people for new jobs and supplying contractors working on the Foxconn build with needed workers. Part of the Foxconn deal requires the company to hire local workers. “Somebody is going to build these facilities and the question is how many people can we get trained,” Racine Mayor Cory Mason said. “The City is anticipating more than $100 million in utility work tied to water infrastructure projects for the Foxconn project alone,” said Mason.
Mason noted the city can implement local hiring requirements for contractors working on city projects, but enforcing them is a challenge if the workforce is not available. “It’s really hard to hold contractors to that standard if we don’t have the training focus locally,” he said.
In addition to workforce training, the Racine Works program will require local hiring for publicly funded municipal construction projects.
In other Foxconn news, the company said it is cutting the amount of water it had originally planned to draw from Lake Michigan by more than 50 percent. Instead, Foxconn will install a $30 million water recycling treatment facility to treat water used in the manufacturing process for reuse in the same processes later. Doing so will cut the plant's water intake from an estimated 6 million gallons per day to 2.5 million gallons per day.
Also, Foxconn has announced it plans to make an internship program with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). It will see UWM engineering students travel to Taiwan to study at the Chung Yuan Christian University and work at a Foxconn facility, before returning home to complete their degrees. The program starts this fall when five students will spend time at Foxconn in Wisconsin before traveling to Taiwan in February, where they will work on projects at one of the company's facilities until June.
Foxconn has said it will need thousands of engineers for the $10 billion manufacturing complex it is building in Racine County. The UWM co-op program could eventually be replicated at other universities in Wisconsin and the Midwest, according to the company and UWM.