Mexican Talent for US CompaniesBy Alberto Villarreal | Tue, 06/14/2022 - 13:00
Over the last decades, the number of Hispanic workers in the US labor force has grown from 10.7 million to 29.0 million in 2020. Hispanics make up about 17 percent of the total labor force and it is estimated that this number will surpass 30 percent by 2060.
For a long time, companies in the US turned to Mexican workers for one thing only: cheap labor. The reality is that there is still a prevalent bias against Hispanics in general, seen as only candidates for manual labor and remaining in vulnerable and unstable work situations. However, times are changing. The number of Hispanics in skilled and higher-paid jobs has increased by almost 5 percent in the past decade in the US. While manufacturing in Mexico continues to be a cost-effective strategy, other industries, especially tech, are recognizing the benefits of hiring highly-skilled talent from across the border.
With the advances in remote work, a new wave of opportunity has opened for North American companies. Mexico as a talent pool was previously considered inaccessible but as diversity becomes the norm and the number of highly-skilled workers from Mexico continues to rise, US companies are looking outside their borders for new talent and perspectives.
With a population of close to 130 million people and an average age of 29, Mexico is a huge country with untapped potential. Remote work has facilitated companies branching out to find potential employees beyond their local area. For big companies, this can be done through specialized recruitment agencies or even global payroll and compliance providers. There is, of course, a catch. Each year, thousands of graduates scramble to find jobs. The official formal unemployment rate in Mexico, where most jobs are informal and not considered in this metric, is 3.2 percent, while the US rate stands at 3.6 percent. For the US economy, the shortage of workers has become a growing problem. However, even when taking those statistics into consideration, sourcing foreign talent is becoming more common. The number of foreign-born US workers is returning to its pre-pandemic levels, which proves that companies are happy with the results of hiring foreign workers.
Today, it is easier for US companies to recruit people outside the country. Usually, to hire foreign employees, companies need to first get a certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. Once this happens, the company must sponsor a visa for the candidate, which includes considerable time and costs. This process can take months to complete and there is always a risk of visa denial. Even with new remote policies, hiring foreign employees is not always an easy task but several companies, including mine, are trying to change this. With the increasing possibility of working from outside the US and startups beginning to hire more international candidates, we are seeing an increased acceptance of foreign workers.
Higher Education in Mexico
Mexico has proven to have the potential and talent to excel in various international jobs. In the last 20 years, the number of people enrolled in universities in Mexico doubled, with approximately 40 percent of young people pursuing a degree. About 20 percent of those graduates chose a relevant engineering degree, which results in a large amount of technical talent.
Higher education in Mexico is also similar to that of the US. Students obtain a bachelor's degree, or Licenciatura, that takes four years to complete while a master's degree lasts two years. Mexico has over 14 institutions among the QS World University Rankings. Private universities, such as Tecnológico de Monterrey, have more students than the biggest US universities, including Texas A&M and the University of Central Florida. Tecnológico de Monterrey ranks 26th in the world in employability of its graduates, according to a ranking by the international firm Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), competing with top-level global universities.
Mexican nationals have the reputation of being committed and keen workers who want to be part of a solid company culture. Besides, both countries share many industries and time zones, resulting in an easy and smooth integration. Mexican workers are North American workers.
To foster and elevate Mexican talent, companies in the US should continue to consider remote work as a way to attract and retain Mexican employees. Given the current shortage of workers in the US, Mexico is a labor market with people who have great potential and are willing to find better opportunities. Notably, the tech sector is seeing rapid growth, leading the top Mexico business hubs — Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara — to fight for the “Silicon Valley of Mexico'' nickname.
The remote work transition has facilitated companies and workers finding better opportunities beyond their geographical borders. Mexico, as a main US partner, is the best place to start for North American companies.