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News Article

International Best Practices Can Bridge Talent Gap

Thu, 11/24/2016 - 17:06

Adopting international best practices can bridge the gap between academia and industry, Jorge Barragán, Mexico Director of the International Youth Foundation, told the Mexico Talent Forum 2016 on Thursday at Mexico City’s Sheraton Maria Isabel hotel.

Although the country’s industry and learning institutes share common goals, often the results can clash, said Barragán. “Companies are trying to retain human capital and universities are trying to provide the skills these companies need.”

Barragán spoke of an inherent miscommunication between both entities, with schools more focused on learning and knowledge, while the market, especially in the energy industry, requires hard skills and experience. “There is a need to really analyze what skills are urgently lacking in the industry and curriculums must be put under the microscope,” he said. “Energy companies require engineers experienced in working in the field but courses do not offer this type of training.”

In the hydrocarbons sector in Mexico, for example, Barragán said that analysis revealed three areas lacking in skills: drilling, scaffolding and pipe fitting. “The demand is already felt in Campeche, Veracruz and Tabasco,” he said. “The cost of human talent is starting to rise so we need to take action now.”

Mexico could look to the Korean model as a way to follow international best practices. “Korea has a very specific human talent strategy associated with the development goals of the country,” Barragán said. “The country knows it must produce scientists and engineers to bridge the future gap.”

As a result, its GDP per capita now makes Korea the second most competitive country in the world. This could be a useful model for Mexico to follow given the similarities between the fundamental industries. “Following very specific strategies, Korea’s largest growth was seen in the technology sector,” he said.

The International Youth Foundation created seven schools in the Gulf of Mexico, the pipeline of which will produce 1,000 technicians per year. However, the methodology differs in that the company solicits feedback from human resources executives and is often referred to courses in other countries. “We then source that course and adapt it to the specificities of Mexico, bringing it into classrooms within six months,” he said. “We do not have to start from scratch; we can adopt best practices.”

Pointing out the similarities between degree courses, Barragán said these can be optimized for greater efficiency. “Seventy percent of a standard mining-metallurgical degree curriculum is the same as that of an oil curriculum.”

According to Barragán, s Mexico Talent Forum 2019: National Growth Subject to Adequate Talent Development Roadmap panel highlights kills required for technical posts should be considered as a pyramid. The base of the pyramid is social consciousness, the second tier is the ability to learn and the third is workplace competencies. “Higher education has no problem ensuring these areas are well covered,” he said. “The problem lies in level four and onward, which involves industry-specific knowledge, sector-specific knowledge and specialization.”

Barragán said an engineering degree requires 7,000 hours within a classroom in Mexico. However, he pointed to an existing Offshore Drilling Technician course available at Houston Community College, and if incorporated into the curriculum in Mexico, this can replace a student’s first year of university with much more effective skills with only 270 classroom hours. “We must leave the theory behind and move toward empirical evidence,” he said.