Carlos Lozano de la Torre
State of Aguascalientes
View from the Top

Education and Social Development Through an Automotive Approach

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 10:40

Q: In terms of education, what advantages does Aguascalientes offer to companies settling in this state?

A: Aguascalientes’ standards of competitiveness, productivity, and knowledge exceed those that can be found in other countries, but its defining factors are the working environment, the safety of the region, and the education level of the local workforce. Aguascalientes has the best public education in Mexico. We are ranked first in the PISA test applied by the OECD at an elementary level, while the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes is considered one of the five best universities in the country. Furthermore, other technological universities based in Aguascalientes are considered examples within their own networks. Moreover, we have restructured our public education curricula to adapt them to the needs of the manufacturing industry.

Q: How has the automotive industry influenced the job market in Aguascalientes?

A: In 2014, we developed a growth model for our local supply chain along with JICA, CIMAT, CIATEQ, and CIDE, in order to close the gap with large companies in areas such as quality certifications and human capital development. We are developing a database of qualified personnel in the state, and our next step is to develop an individual strategy with each company through programs with INADEM, CONACYT, NAFIN, PRODIAT, and PROSOFT, depending of their particular needs. In terms of labor, Aguascalientes has an extremely low personnel turnover rate, and our employment generation currently grows at an annual rate of 6.1%. As a result, the unemployment rate has dropped from 7% in 2010, to 4% in 2015. In four years, we have created more than 58,000 new jobs, and each of these jobs represents one less problem on the streets. In 2014 alone, 6,600 jobs were created in the manufacturing area, 3,800 in the service sector, 1,350 in construction, 1,170 in commerce, and 1,350 in communications and transport. With Daimler and Infiniti’s new investment, we are expecting the creation of 5,700 direct new jobs, and it is a general rule that a project like this will generate seven indirect positions for every direct job. Employment is the only way we can eliminate crime, and creating wealth is the only way we are going to alleviate poverty.

Q: How is the government collaborating with the private sector to create programs that meet the skills requirements of companies such as Nissan?

A: Nissan’s initiative is a joint project between the company, the government, technical institutions, and universities. We have offered scholarships to the students participating in this program, and we have now expanded from the initial 100 students that he company enrolled to approximately 250 per year. Furthermore, the company only offered positions to around 30% of these graduates when we started the project, but now it employs almost everyone. Our triple helix linkage model has redirected educational plans toward manufacturing and every other profession that our current growth is demanding. We are working with six R&D centers in the state, and we have created a truly integrated schoolcompany program through our commitment with CONALEP. Our priority is to create as many opportunities as possible for local people; we cannot prevent others from coming to the state, but we can offer the best education according to the industry’s needs. Every company in Aguascalientes, whether American or Japanese, is managed by local people, most of them graduates of the public system. This was unthinkable 35 years ago. Nissan’s Vice President of Manufacturing, Armando Ávila, comes from Aguascalientes, and the company even employed someone from our state to manage its operations in Brazil. This is not exclusive to Nissan, as there are multiple companies taking managers from Aguascalientes to other facilities around the world. We are exporting talent, and these people have become examples of the state’s quality.

Q: What would you like to achieve during your remaining time as Governor?

A: We still have one and a half years to consolidate all these projects. We just announced the opening of a new technological university to meet the demand for higher education, and we also built a new completely bilingual campus for 6,000 extra students. We are focusing on developing language laboratories to make our students more competitive in this new global environment, and we want to keep strengthening our educational approach. We want to remain a safe state with the best governance in the country, as well as keeping up with our economic growth.