Mexico’s flourishing industries require increasingly specialized local human resources, a panel of experts told Mexico Talent Forum 2016 on Thursday, calling for synergies between educational institutions, research centers and the government to meet the needs of incoming companies.

Moderator Christopher Ávila, Deputy Director of Government Affairs at Grupo Bal, Alfredo Arzola, Director of Cluster Automotriz de Guanajuato, Sergio Barrera, Board of Directors of Queretaro AeroCluster and Victor Maldonado, Head of Human Resources at Energy Cluster Coahuila, participated in the panel “Clusters as Educational Advocates” at the Sheraton Maria Isabel hotel in Mexico City.

“The best systems are created when the entire industry works together and it is important that we train personnel for the region and not just for each individual company,” Maldonado said.

The Coahuila Energy Cluster was created to meet the state’s energy demand. The private sector, along with municipal and state governments have created committees to focus on finding solutions for the future challenges the state will face to fulfill the demand of specialized human resources, especially with the Energy Reform that has opened that market.

15167724_967407400027977_662416500469943130_o“Although the Energy Reform has not taken off completely and the market has slowed down, it is a priority for the state to focus on training specialized personnel, particularly within nonconventional sectors,” said Maldonado.

Growing industries like aerospace face a similar dilemma, especially as foreign businesses increasingly look to local talent to fill top positions.

“Foreign companies within the Queretaro Aerospace Cluster have brought with them their director generals for many years but now they are beginning to change their organizational structures and have begun hiring national talent,” said Barrera.

The Queretaro Aerospace Cluster accounts for more than 850 direct jobs, which is about 18 percent of the total sector jobs nationwide. Companies such as Safran, Bombardier, Airbus, AirNova and soon Rolls Royce are carrying out operations in Queretaro, making it the number one destination for aerospace foreign direct investment with more than 50 percent of the national number.

These industries have a large gap to bridge when it comes to the specialized and technical workforce that is available.

“We have identified that the labor force does not have the basic academic training needed in the industry,” said Maldonado. The number of jobs in Guanajuato jumped from 25,000 in 2010, to 90,000 in 2016, boosting the appetite of companies to invest in dual programs and increase investment in their HR departments.

Queretaro has over 70 universities that provide training to the sector and has even created the Aeronautics University to support foreign companies in training their human capital. “To bridge the gap, it is elemental that all members of the cluster participate and exchange ideas on how to improve the sector.”

The Coahuila Energy Cluster has already identified an area of opportunity in terms of talent that is specialized in hydrocarbons, particularly in the extraction of shale gas. Weaker oil prices have also caused companies to scout more local talent, further intensifying the demand for specialized employees. The cluster has created a program that moves in sync with the government’s plans. “It is important to align objectives with those of the government because they are the ones that create the rules of the game,” said Maldonado.

Montoya believes the best way to increase the competitiveness of the sector is by allowing recent graduates to carry out internships and receive compensation, especially in areas that have high rates of rotation. By doing this, they will gain more specialized experience in the area and at the same time help companies close the revolving door, he said.

Christopher Ávila, Deputy Director of Government Affairs at Grupo Bal, agreed. “CLUSMIN followed the German model to allow students to spend time in mines as part of their training,” he said, referring to the mining cluster in Zacatecas.

“Younger generations tend to know exactly what they do not want, but not what they want. The challenge is finding the balance between their needs and creating positions that let them rotate duties and learn new skills,” said Maldonado.

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