Talent shortage puts nearshoring in check, which profiles are being sought?

In Mexico, there is already difficulty in covering vacancies in some industries, and nearshoring has not yet triggered the demand for specialized profiles; the shortage of talent has positioned itself as a challenge for taking advantage of the relocation of companies.

Note published on May 15, 2024 in expansion.mx. Human Capital section, by Sonia Soto and Gerardo Hernández. Mention: Blanya Correal.

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Finding the right profiles will become one of the most important challenges in the relocation to Mexico of multinational companies  seeking to bring their supply chains closer to the United States, a strategy better known as nearshoring.

The Department of Economy estimates that at least 400 companies from the United States could arrive in Mexico in 2024; this could create 2 million additional jobs, 58% of these new jobs would be concentrated in the manufacturing industry.

Blanya Correal Sarmiento, international consultant and specialist in the Development of Labor Transformation Models, explains that the automotive, auto parts, maquila and technology industries are sectors that already require technical profiles, and even though Mexico is the country in the region with the greatest development in this sense, the challenge lies in covering this demand which, without nearshoring, is not complete.

In fact, according with the ManpowerGroup 2024 Global Talent Shortage Survey 68% of employers have difficulty in finding suitable talent; among the positions that are most difficult to cover we find: 

  • Information Technologies and data analysis  
  • Sales and marketing  
  • Customer service and front office  
  • Operations and logistics  
  • Office administration and support  
  •  

With the phenomenon of relocation, transnational companies with highly specialized activities (robotics, aerospace, biotechnology, or telecommunications) seek to relocate their plants and invest in places with skilled labor, the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO) pointed out in its research Nearshoring: opportunity that challenges Mexican entities.

“The availability of skilled labor, that is, labor with a higher level of education, training and skills, can be one of the determining factors for the level of attractiveness that a region has for direct foreign investment”, says the research center in this research.

What types of jobs will be in demand? To give us an idea, David Eaton, president of the American Chamber Monterrey Chapter, explains that in the case of the industrial sector, the type of manufacturing that will arrive with nearshoring will be advanced.

“We need workers with a technical vocation. Metal-mechanics for major home appliances, the automotive sector, everything relating to logistics, handling supply chains, warehouses and storage (are industries that will be in great demand)”, he says.

Technical jobs such as automotive engineers or specialists in logistics are only some examples of talent that will be required with the relocation of companies to Mexico.

For Ana Gutiérrez, coordinator of Foreign Trade and Labor Market at the IMCO, even though our country has a sufficient volume of labor available to meet the demands, “it is necessary to make adjustments in technical skills and degrees. The main adjustment is to ensure that job offers are attractive to the workforce that is not being used today, and also to develop skills that will be needed for the positions that will be created in the value chain.”

Digital profiles, necessary talent for nearshoring  

The technology industry can also increase the demand of specialized profiles in the context of nearshoring. This sector currently has the first place in the areas with the greatest difficulty in filling vacancies in Mexico, according to the findings of ManpowerGroup.

“Nearshoring is an important topic in the talent industry. After the pandemic, the world realized that now talent can be found anyplace in the world, and that it is possible to move certain positions or services to other time zones”, says José Luis Gasco, Consultancy Leader at EY GDS México.

According to the Firm, specialized profiles in frontend, backend, react, Cloud solutions and cybersecurity are some of the positions that are already being sought with the relocation of technology companies.

This month, Google informed of the dismissal of 200 employees in its Core unit as part of the reorganization of its divisions. Some of these positions will be relocated to Mexico and India.

“Without a doubt, this shortage is something that must be worked on and it must be done well, new opportunities keep arriving with nearshoring and even more so in technology, to apply the new digital transformation areas, all of the platforms that have been maturing are used, machine learning, or data analytics solutions, for example”, explains José Luis Gasco.

Talent demand and shortage. What do we do now? 

For Blanya Correal, one of the alternatives for reducing the talent gap is that companies work on internal development, that is, that they generate the profiles.

The 2023 report by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, states that nearly 110,000 technicians and engineers graduate form all schools in Mexico, a number that is insufficient for covering the expected demand for specialists in the short term.

In this sense, the majority of women prefer to focus their studies on education, health and wellbeing, journalism, and social sciences, but their representativity in careers such as engineering, mathematics and statistics is significantly lower. 

Given this situation, says Blanya Correal Sarmiento, there should be an effort to increase the presence of women in these careers, as there is an inventory problem and, often, it is more a question of culture than of capacity that prevents them for pursuing these careers.

“Then, how do we also get women excited about pursuing these topics? Lastly, a woman can handle these processes perfectly well, sometimes even with skills that complement those of men. This could help us solve the talent shortage problem”, she says.

Organizations must generate within them a culture in which the talent wants to work on their own development, on getting an education, training and give them the tools to do so, so this would be another way of getting the profiles that are required.

For example, once, in an assembly plant in which I was, they conducted technical Olympics, and anyone could compete, no matter what their level; this practice is fun, simple and talent can be detected, the specialist shares.

The connection between school and the world of employment  

The connection between what is required in the world of employment and what is taught in universities continues to be an area of opportunity, given that students do not know how to implement everything that they learn in their training phase.

This is why Blanya Correal proposes the promotion of young talent programs as a means for generating qualifications, that students have practices in the real world is indispensable.

Lastly, a strategy in the face of this context is to consider boomerang workers, recovering key collaborators that left the company after the pandemic.

Recovering the competencies of these people is a strategy that will help us deal with the talent shortage.As well as making good use of the experience of extensively knowledgeable seniors in the training of young people, she said.

Not having the necessary talent for the arrival of nearshoring will have three immediate effects, the specialist states. Some consequences are:

A difficult landing of this industrial development in Mexico, the arrival of companies to the country would become slower, and investment would be disincentivized.

Impact on recruitment timings, studies show that some companies take 24 days in attracting technical and medium-range talent; to the extent that the country and the organizations fail to become prepared, this process will become much more complex and lengthier. Additionally, the workloads will fall on other workers, she said.

Filling vacancies with the profiles that are available, the position will be filled with the person with the competences that are most similar to the required profile; when this happens, the person can struggle to meet objectives, and this can affect their quality of life.

“As companies, we have the responsibility of positively managing the advantage brought by having the required talent. To the extent that we prepare ourselves, people will be ready, will have better workplaces, the environment will be more positive”, warns the specialist in the Development of Labor Transformation Models.

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