Juan Carlos Corral
President
Queretaro Aerocluster
/
View from the Top

Local Investment Crucial for the Aerospace Sector

By Sofía Hanna | Thu, 03/10/2022 - 12:05

Q: What are Queretaro Aerospace Cluster’s main goals?

A: The cluster’s objectives remain the same every year. Our goals are to increase purchases in Queretaro’s supply chain and to lay the foundations for the creation of a major aerospace company with a majority of Mexican capital, which will occur in five, 10 or 20 years.

The cluster is also working to increase R&D activities. In Queretaro, only 1 percent of revenue is invested in R&D, which is not close to the 10 percent investment that companies make in countries with leading aerospace industries. In addition, while it is important to continue attracting FDI, we must foster national direct investment. It is time to take the next step.

When it comes to  Queretaro’s Aerospace Sector development, many people talk about the triple-helix model. In Queretaro, we have now passed to a quintuple-helix model, which also includes startups and financing companies.

 

Q: What role do local and federal governments play in the development of the Mexican aerospace sector?

A: The support from both federal and local governments is essential for the Mexican aerospace industry. The current federal administration should have designed a strategic plan for the sector. It was never done but it is not too late to do it.

 

Q: What are the main talent challenges for Queretaro’s aerospace industry?

A: Queretaro has several universities so training young talent is not a problem. Although we have a good number of graduates every year, the cluster works constantly on initiatives to attract young people into aerospace specialties. This year, we are working on the “Haz que suceda” (Make it happen) campaign to continue promoting the benefits of working in the aerospace sector.

 

Queretaro’s problem lies in the lack of experienced talent, which causes high personnel turnover, a trend that worsened due to the pandemic. There is a talent war going on, with companies poaching employees from one another. This will generate wage inflation and benefit employees but it will hurt Queretaro’s competitiveness.

 

Q: How is the cluster contributing to avoid wage inflation while retaining talent?

A: We have two strategies to fight this problem. The first is to set fair wages for everyone involved. The second is to invest in emotional salary, which is as important as an employee’s economic salary. Everyone seeks happiness and companies must be aware of the importance of caring for their people. The cluster is working to promote the creation of suitable work environments for everyone. Companies that are successful in providing an emotional salary will also be successful in their core business.

 

Q: How did the cluster contribute to Queretaro’s 2021-2027 State Development Plan?

A: The plan was a joint effort with citizens and the local government. One of the issues addressed in the plan is pursuing zero emissions in the aerospace sector, both in operations and manufacturing. The industry is trying to minimize emissions and eliminate them when possible.

 

Q: What are the main trends in the aerospace sector and how is Queretaro addressing them?

A: Globally, companies are looking at hydrogen propulsion and electrification but the latter remains unfeasible for the wide body aircraft and the first is not in the short run. Another trend is digital transformation. Digitalization of processes and products made in Queretaro is essential.

 

The cluster works actively as a member of the TD2035, an initiative of the state’s private companies. Through this initiative, we have joined several clusters, chambers, universities and the local government to digitally transform both the industry and society.

 

Q: What elements make Queretaro an attractive industrial state?

A: Its location in the Bajio helps but it is not enough. Queretaro has great infrastructure, road connectivity, good universities and important technological centers. Regarding logistics, we have an airport that is becoming increasingly important in passenger transport but especially in cargo. The government has also been essential. Local government support has been constant no matter which party is in charge.

 

Q: How has the Mexican aerospace industry grown over the past 15 years?

A: Mexico, and in particular Queretaro, has evolved considerably over the past 15 years. Fifteen years ago, Queretaro did not have much of a presence in the aerospace industry, with some exceptions such as General Electric and ITP Aero. Today, Mexico has a strong aerospace sector. Globally, this industry grows at a 4 percent to 5 percent annual rate. Queretaro’s aerospace industry grew at a double-digit rate for several years before the pandemic, both in employment and revenue.

Queretaro has an important global presence but we must work to keep it. The correct steps have been taken but it is time to take the next step and use direct national investment to continue growing.

 

Queretaro Aerocluster promotes and consolidates the state’s aerospace industry, helping it to become more competitive to better position itself in the national and international arenas.

Sofía Hanna Sofía Hanna Journalist and Industry Analyst