News Article

Align Objectives to Develop Human Talent

Thu, 11/24/2016 - 17:14

One of the biggest challenges in developing human talent is aligning the objectives of academic institutions and companies, a group of experts told the Mexico Talent Forum 2016 in Mexico City on Thursday.

Mexico has different institutions that work hard to develop talent but there is a clear communication gap between the academic and private sectors. “We can create a supply chain of talent among academic institutions and companies but there needs to be a more transparent division of responsibilities among players that are relevant in the development of human talent in Mexico,” said Jorge Barragán, Director for Mexico at International Youth Foundation.

Juan Casillas, Managing Director of ManattJones and the panel’s moderator, Rosendo Cuellar, Director of Strategic Planning and Development at UVM and Julieta Cuellar, Talent Management Leader at Cummins, also participated in the panel “Talent Triple Helix: Government, Private Sector & Academia” at the Sheraton Maria Isabel hotel.

Cummins’ Cuellar said her experience in San Luis Potosi suggests the two sides can produce positive results when working in tandem. The state is highly active in the automotive industry and struggles to fill its occupational vacancies with skilled technicians. “We had a positive experience with CONALEP, a public academic institution, that was open to adapting its program to the needs of the automotive companies,” she said. “We helped 22 employees that only had middle-school level education gain more professional skills with a tailored technical degree.”

Similarly, in Chihuahua a cluster of 55 companies in a single municipality was struggling to find specialists, recounted Barragán. “We collaborated with nearby academic institutions to create a strategy to close educational gaps.” The companies were tired of having to invest large sums of capital on training programs and the educational institutions did not have the funds to develop expensive laboratories.

“We found a middle point by identifying two critical skills that were of major concern to the companies and that did not require a laboratory: industrial security and quality administration.” The result was a win-win situation because the academic training did not require large funds and it improved the skills of the employees in the area.

Stronger relationships are important considering Mexico has 3.5 million students in higher education and only 170,000 are studying technical programs. “There is a large technical gap to fill. Companies need graduates that are better prepared,” said UVM’s Cuellar.

“By promoting collaboration, the benefits are doubled as graduates become better prepared to handle obstacles and companies become more efficient. We need to further align the interests even though collaboration is not easy,” added Barragán.

UVM, a private academic institution, is committed to filling the labor pipeline in Mexico but it asks companies to do more. “We ask private companies to further allow our students to participate in internships,” said the school’s director. “Developing experienced graduates requires a commitment from both the students and the companies.”

Incorporating international best practices from North American universities and other countries to better manage human talent can also help Mexico improve its human capital environment. “We need to analyze the steps that are needed to better relate academic institutions and companies,” said Casillas.

Helping students reach the finish line must also take precedence. In Mexico, only one in 10 students that start a higher education obtain their degrees, said UVM’s Cuellar. “It is a large problem and we need to make sure that programs can adapt to the needs of the youth. This implies being flexible toward students who work and aspire to finish college.”

Cuellar, of Cummins, said the quality of professors equally needs to be a priority. “In San Luis Potosi, a university was particularly successful when it required all its professors to have experience in the industry they were teaching. Classes that are taught by professionals who have not only academic knowledge but real-world experience make a massive difference.”

Technical programs need to be part of the solution. “Companies need to reconsider not hiring employees that come from technical programs,” UVM’s Cuellar said. “The ‘College for All’ model is oversaturated. We need to rejuvenate the triple helix value and reconsider the value of technical programs.”