Felsomat, a German manufacturer that makes automation equipment for the automotive industry, has a talent problem that’s become a growth problem.

Plans to triple the size of its Schaumburg facility, to 100,000 square feet, have stalled in part because it is difficult to find skilled technicians to design, build and service the automated systems that have allowed U.S. carmakers to produce more than ever before with fewer people, said Richard Gilchrist, chairman of Felsomat USA.

Despite the national hand-wringing about manufacturing jobs lost to automation and cheaper foreign labor, and President-elect Donald Trump’s threats of penalties against companies that offshore, some manufacturers say the industry’s health relies more on training people for the jobs that will keep their companies competitive in the future.

The low-paid assembly-line jobs “will never come back,” Gilchrist said. “The jobs that can come back are high-tech jobs, if we have the industry to support it.”

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Manufacturing, News