Mónica Flores Barragán
Director General
ManpowerGroup Mexico and Central America

Investment Will Dry Up without Available Talent

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 10:40

“Globally, 34% of companies we interview face challenges to fill positions. In Mexico, this figure increases to 43% due to the lack of suitable candidates,” begins Mónica Flores Barragán, Director General of Manpower Mexico. Flores Barragán says that the serious investment flowing into Mexico through industries such as automotive and aerospace will further squeeze the local job market. “If you combine this with the Energy Reform, the country will require talent that is not currently available. Manpower is planning to reinforce its activities to match supply and demand for employment by expanding its existing business units and by continuing to work with the local and federal authorities, educational institutions - universities and technical schools - to develop the talent that will be needed in the market in the future.” As language barriers are steadily disappearing thanks to globalization, Flores Barragán has witnessed that highly skilled workers are now more willing to leave their home country to gain international experience. “This trend is very enriching for the global job market as it accelerates the transfer of knowledge across the globe. International mobility allows people to gain experience and expertise available in other parts of the world to subsequently apply these acquired skills in their home country. Due to the shortage of talent in Mexico, the oil and gas industry will benefit greatly from the arrival of skilled workers from other Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina. The country is coming to the realization that it is lacking in petroleum and petrochemical engineers.” Flores Barragán believes that Mexico is gradually shifting towards a model where immigration issues will not be a major obstacle to attracting a strong internationally mobile workforce. She explains that the government will realize that if talent is not attracted to meet industry needs, then investment will dry up as well. “In the long-term, allowing foreign talent into the country can only be beneficial, since they are transferring their knowledge to local workers, thus enabling them to take the lead in the future.”

The benefits of global professional experience gained by working a few years abroad could well push Mexican skilled workers to seek opportunities beyond the boundaries of Mexico,” she adds. “After all, oil and gas companies are usually global, or at least have a degree of interaction with international suppliers or service providers. Manpower statistics show that 80% of SMEs interviewed had some sort of relationship with international or global companies.” Manpower has a national database that allows the company to locate candidates and match supply and demand by geography, which goes some way in closing the gap in the short term. However, as Flores Barragán points out, one of the challenges Mexico faces in the longer term is to promote studies that prepare students for careers in oil and gas. She estimates that a little above 2% of Mexican engineers are specialized in oil and gas. Manpower’s ambition is to accelerate the process of integrating qualified and skilled workers into the workforce. At the same time, on-going staff training is taking on a more important role, since technology and skills that were acquired through studying or work experience are becoming obsolete at a faster pace than ever before.

Mexican companies typically require candidates to have three years of experience under their belt, she goes on to explain. “Manpower offers graduates the opportunity to gain experience in several companies on short-term assignments, which can lead to direct hires. At the other end of the spectrum, the company works with people who decide to come out of retirement. They have the skills and experience and Manpower provide them with the platform to rejoin the work force. In Mexico, over 50% of university graduates are women who require more flexible working hours, parttime or seasonal jobs, due to family responsibilities. We are able to provide work opportunities that fit their specific needs,” says Flores Barragán. “Our portfolio of services is structured to meet all of our clients’ needs, which is what makes us so competitive in this volatile environment. We will keep providing information to institutions regarding the skills that are being sought after in the job market. By skills, I am not only referring to professional qualifications and technical knowledge, but also leadership, analytical and communication skills, and decision-making capabilities. We are hoping to develop partnerships with the government to deliver these objectives, as staffing companies are the best way to incentivize productivity and to help people find their first job, or get back into the formal workforce.”