César Fragozo, Head of Sectorial Development Unit for ProMéxico (far left); Daniel Parfait, President of Safran Mexico; Jorge Gutiérrez, Dean of Queretaro Aeronautic University (UNAQ); Ricardo Iñurria, Director of Operations and Projects for Out Helping; and Esau Magallanes, President of CANACINTRA Queretaro (far right), at Mexico Aerospace Forum 2017

Development of human capital with the appropriate abilities is crucial for continued investment in the aerospace industry, panelists said at the Mexico Aerospace Forum 2017, as they reflected on the challenges that the generation of human talent poses for the Mexican industry.

“In an industry as specialized as aerospace, human capital is vital,” said César Fragozo, Head of Sectorial Development Unit for ProMéxico, during the panel discussion at the Hotel Sheraton María Isabel in Mexico City on Wednesday.

Fragozo was joined by Daniel Parfait, President of Safran Mexico; Jorge Gutiérrez, Dean of Queretaro Aeronautic University (UNAQ); Ricardo Iñurria, Director of Operations and Projects for Out Helping; and Esau Magallanes, President of CANACINTRA Queretaro.

Parfait said that when it comes to investment decisions, quality of human capital plays an important role in the decision-making process of companies. “Why do we invest so much in Mexico? The answer is simple, its quality workforce.”

Gutiérrez, said that the quality of Mexican workforce for the sector is the result of the close cooperation that exists between academia and the private sector. “Ninety-six percent of the students who finish one of our technical training courses graduate with a job. This is the result of the joint development of curricula and students’ abilities between the UNAQ and the sector.”

Iñurria said that even though there is talent in Mexico, companies are struggling to retain these valued employees. “Companies invest a lot of money and time training their workers, they now need to address their retention schemes.”

Magallanes added that lack of retention is a result of several factors; however, one of the most pressing is the lack of company identity among employees. “Starting in university, students must start developing an identity with companies.” UNAQ’s Gutiérrez said that part of his university’s job is the development of soft skills that can help its students generate a sense of belonging in their jobs.

The lack of company identity is not the only factor that generates retention, said Iñurria. “Companies tend to become fixated with salaries and the remuneration package as the main reason for personnel rotation, but there are so many other influencing factors, such as transportation and mobility.” Iñurria added that there are many people happy with their jobs, but that mobility issues take a toll on their life. “A three-hour daily commute becomes unsustainable and generates personnel rotation.” Parfait said a plausible solution is the development of areas near airports so mobility does not become a problem.

Additional challenges arise from the success of the industry. CANACINTRA’s Magallanes said, “we have an important shortage of manpower and we expect this to increase by 2020.” For Parfait, the success companies have had in Queretaro will lead to more companies establishing in the state, which will generate even more competition for skilled labor. “Demand is increasing; we have to generate enough workforce supply,” he said.

In addition to competition for talent, Parfait added that Industry 4.0 models are making the industry evolve in a rapid manner, “there is an important and fast evolution of needs in the industry.” Solving these evolving needs has become a priority for higher education institutions said UNAQ’s Gutiérrez, adding that the university is working towards making their study plans more flexible, “every company has different needs, the Ministry of Public Education and us has to work on improving our responsiveness to the new needs of the industry.”

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