Thierry Gonnet Crabos
Director General
Adecco México

Developing the National Workforce

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 13:04

“With an economy that has grown steadily over the past few years and is expected to continue to grow, Mexico will need to further develop national talent in order to meet the growing demand of the Mexican economy, particularly in the oil and gas sector. Mexico is trying to develop deepwater fields, for example, which in practice ensures that the investment in that area will continue to grow,” explains Thierry Gonnet Crabos, Director General of Adecco Mexico. This could also put Pemex in a challenging position, since the labor market might not satisfy the increased demand. The situation becomes more worrying for the future, since the industry already has a lot of international workers filling positions that should, by law, be occupied by Mexicans. “The law currently states that no more than 10% of a company’s employees can be foreign, but there is a loophole in the regulation that most companies take advantage of,” states Gonnet Crabos. “Even though Mexico has changed in the last 10 years, developing more specialized personnel with increased technological knowledge, the problem continues to be that the rate at which labor demands are satisfied is way below the rate at which the country is developing economically.”

The problem comes down to the capabilities of the Mexican workforce, the speed at which they are developing new skills, and the number of skilled workers available compared to the number of highly skilled international workers that want to come to Mexico. Alberto del Castillo Román, Director of Recruitment and Consulting at Adecco and the company’s specialist in the energy sector, explains the di†erences between both profiles. “Expatriate workers have an advantage over Mexican candidates in terms of advanced specialization. When technologies needed for a project exceed the capabilities of Pemex, or new technologies are introduced, it is extremely hard to find the national talent needed to perform the tasks required,” he says. “The profile of the average Mexican worker is of someone who adapts and learns quickly, absorbing many functions at the same time and at a lower cost than it would take to bring in an expatriate.” The challenge to increasing the number of Mexican workers in the industry is how to make these workers more competitive in terms of technical knowledge.

Based on his knowledge of how international companies operate in the market, Del Castillo Román proposes a solution: “Adecco has developed several alliances with international companies to manage their recruitment and selection departments through an outsourcing scheme. In this way the organization has looked into how companies can use their international workers to train Mexicans to become specialists in their technologies, boosting the national talent base to satisfy future market demand. Adecco then adds these newly-created experts to its talent base, which helps to further invest in skills development programs for the future.” The skills development programs that Adecco o†ers improve the ability of the domestic labor force to satisfy labor market demands.

One of the biggest challenges that Adecco faces in enhancing the Mexican talent base, though, is that talents are scarce and dispersed throughout the country. “With talent being spread throughout Mexico, the organization ends up having to recruit people from di†erent parts of the country, which increases the costs of hiring a Mexican candidate,” says del Castillo Román. “Mexico currently lacks an e·cient geographic strategy capable of satisfying the talent requirements of the oil and gas sector.” The challenge of developing national content for the oil and gas industry might be a long-term task but in the long run the benefits will undoubtedly outweigh the investment.

An additional problem that companies such as Adecco face in filling positions is the issue of security in the country: “States that are of great importance for the petroleum industry are filled with criminal organizations that hinder the industry’s development,” Gonnet Crabos explains. Nevertheless, Adecco’s presence in the majority of Mexican states helps it to accurately assess each individual situation along the lines of safety provision, and act as consultants for firms trying to establish themselves in di†erent cities and candidates being asked to work in them. “When the risks of working in a specific place are too high, Adecco recommends the client not to work there, since the conditions make it impossible to develop an adequate recruitment process,” Del Román Castillo adds