Human talent has been singled out as one of the most controversial subjects resulting from the Energy Reform. As the industry evolves and the market continues to grow, more international companies are setting up shop and facing the decision between hiring local staff or importing employees from their home base. When considering hiring local employees, companies, both national and international, have observed a lack of competitiveness from the Mexican workforce resulting from a weaker technical education. Another concern is the age gap, where employees set to retire soon have no ready successors. Here, key players discuss their efforts to address these issues.
Guillermo García Alcocer
CRE offers young professionals the possibility to leave their mark on the country and contribute to its future growth. Mexico’s reforms have laid the groundwork to increase the country’s competitiveness. It is a critical moment in our history. The Energy Reform allows new ways of developing the country’s most vulnerable regions. We can transform Mexico’s southeastern states into economic powerhouses just by supplying natural gas to them. The electricity sector’s reform has not attracted as much attention as that for hydrocarbons but it is probably the most powerful for boosting the country’s economic development. Energy has the potential to change Mexicans’ way of living for the better. It can create new jobs and give young Mexicans a wider range of options for the future. CRE is an important part of creating a strong energy industry to transform the country’s social structure.
Armando de la Torre
In Mexico, five in every 10 companies face difficulties filling job vacancies, which diminishes productivity by 29 percent and their capacity to provide quality customer service by 27 percent, according to ManPower estimates. To develop young talent and reduce the skilled worker deficit in our country, ho1a created a certification program in 2012, called Ingeniero 01, through which we dedicate MX$1 million every year to generate the knowledge and technical abilities the market demands. We are working with the 11th year of this program, which will allow us not only to develop the required manpower for our projects but also to provide for our clients as well. CFE receives technology with every project it develops, and although it trains its employees, this can be made easier when a project comes with the qualified personnel ready to start.
To adapt to an increasing demand for qualified human resources, with the participation of the Innovation, Science and Technology Ministry we are creating the Technology Innovation Center, in which we are collaborating with California’s College, Canadian innovation centers and the German Cooperation Agency. This center will mostly focus on the renewable energy sector and we are also involving local colleges in this endeavor. The Autonomous University of Guadalajara (UAG) designed a Master’s degree specialized in renewable energy and is developing a project focused on energy transition to make its facilities sustainable. Finally the state is creating the Mario Molina Institute, which will focus on technological innovation for renewable energy, research, training and technological transference. The Institute will also serve to strengthen our communications strategy, to promote our efforts to all interested players.
GreenMomentum has been selected as an adviser and administrator of the Sustainable Energy Fund, a sector-specific fund managed by the Ministry of Energy and CONACYT, holding around MX$2 billion. A portion of the fund is used to build human capital in the energy sector, including the provision of a number of scholarships. We support the government with the publication of the reference terms, the publicity campaign and the analysis of proposals. However, the Ministry of Energy and CONACYT always have the final say. The energy industry needs more specialized human capital than ever and we see a great opportunity in acting at the state level in this area. We think that tailormade strategies designed according to the needs and characteristics of each state would be more effective than a federal initiative.
The most important hurdle for innovation in the long term in Mexico will be the lack of human talent because we do not have enough professional technicians. Electrical engineers are scarce, as well as people with knowledge of geophysics or knowledge of oil exploitation or geothermal energy. Our most important contribution has been the majority of the technology and innovation assets capitalized first and foremost by CFE but also by the national and international network of suppliers that operate in Mexico. This includes the capability of the professionals that work in the electrical industry. Forty years of capacity building are properly measured by the amount of money that our customers have spent and the work they have provided to our endeavor, which allows us to foresee an attractive future.
The Energy Reform unleashed a wide range of opportunities for Mexican professionals with diverse backgrounds, not only those with energy-related studies such as electrical engineering. The energy industry needs professionals from different areas of specialization but with an understanding of the new regulatory framework and the needs of the energy industry, including financing, engineering and regulatory aspects. Our task is to relay to students and professionals the opportunities they can find in the energy industry. The Ministry of Energy together with CONACYT called for proposals in 2014 to fund an educational initiative addressed to the energy sector, looking to integrate four axes: improving Mexico’s human resources capacity and R&D infrastructure, promoting further research on energy-related issues and bringing different stakeholders into a collaborative model.
We have highly specialized staff covering different areas of expertise, some with over 30 years of experience. We even hired some employees that had recently retired from CFE and other major companies in the sector. Chinese culture places great value on experience and human resources, two aspects that we have integrated into our corporate culture. We know some companies avoid hiring senior employees but we prefer to acknowledge their potential and take advantage of their wide experience in the industry. Our senior staff are a great complement to our strong base of young employees, easing the transfer of knowledge and capacity building in the company. China and Mexico have several cultural differences but share the common objective of contributing to sustainable development. Having a common objective helps to move joint ventures forward in spite of cultural differences.