Even Foxconn’s Projections Show a Vulnerable (Replaceable) Workforce

Here in Whitewater, one has heard the most optimistic (indeed, truly fantastic) projections for Foxconn’s employment opportunities. Look more closely, however, and even under Foxconn and state officials’ self-interested projections on behalf of the project, many of the projected employees will be entry-level workers, as Rick Romell reports:

But there’s another aspect of the 22-million-square-foot manufacturing complex planned for Racine County that has received relatively little attention: It will employ thousands of people who will arrive at its gates with no special skills and no more education than a high school diploma — and at wages well above the median for such workers.

That picture emerges in interviews with industry observers and with a key Foxconn executive, and in documents connected to the project.

See Foxconn will need thousands of workers with entry-level skills and a high school diploma.

Lots of entry-level workers, but with promises of above-market wages.

That’s not a prospect of a long-term career – it’s an incentive for Foxconn to automate as soon as they can.

They already have a solution they used elsewhere: they’re called Foxbots.

(Proper credit: comments here at FW have made this point more fully than I’ve done here.)

Previously10 Key Articles About FoxconnFoxconn as Alchemy: Magic Multipliers,  Foxconn Destroys Single-Family HomesFoxconn Devours Tens of Millions from State’s Road Repair Budget, and The Man Behind the Foxconn Project, A Sham News Story on Foxconn, and Another Pig at the Trough.

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6 years ago

Foxconn is placing a huge bet on technological stagnation. I’m not sure it will happen.

The display biz is pretty dynamic. It was only 15 years ago that CRT vacuum-tube displays were still king of the large-format display market. Small LCD monochrome laptop displays were available, but really spendy ($1000/ea, OEM) and pretty terrible too look at. Very large-format TV’s were invariably rear-projection appliances using three CRT projection tubes to get color, and were almost the size of a two-holer outhouse.

Then plasma and cold-cathode-fluorescent edge-lit LCD large-format display panels reigned for a short while, after dispatching CRT’s to the rest-home. Neither has any market left anymore, as LED-illuminated LCDs are all that is that remains, for the moment. That is what this factory will be tooled up to produce.

Lurking in the weeds a a superior display called OLED (Organic LED), where the picture comes directly from LED illumination, rather than a LCD shutter illuminated with white LEDs. this technology is significantly different from how LCDs are made.

Hopefully Foxconn is light enough on their feet that their whole $10B factory does not go suddenly obsolete on them. We need them to be around for 40 years to just break even on our investment in them, even by Walker’s wildly optimistic ass-pulls…

Reply to  JOHN ADAMS
6 years ago

Did you notice that the main developer of the Foxconn campus is Jon Hammes, Walker’s campaign finance chair? Pretty astonishing coincidence, eh?