Manufacturers that are seeking to initiate or to expand facilities south of the border should be aware of, and familiar with, the education and training infrastructure that has been put into place for the purpose of developing technical talent in Mexico that is capable of meeting their needs.
It in the late 1970s, during the administration of then president José López Portillo, it was apparent that the country’s technical training education system required attention in order to create the conditions conducive to stimulating Mexico’s economic growth. During this time, a group of educators acting at the behest of the federal government were tasked to perform a study of the current state of existing programs that were in place for the purpose of developing technical talent in Mexico. Research showed that the organization of educational programs designed to produce qualified and vocationally trained technicians in Mexico was piecemeal, at best. This led to the conclusion that, in order to address current and anticipated industry needs in the area of vocationally trained human resources, a new organization would need to be established to nurture and develop technically trained human resources.
On December 27, 1978 the Colegio National de Educacion Profesional Tecnica (CONALEP), or the National Professional Technical Education College, came into existence by means of a presidential decree.
At present, CONALEP develops technical talent in Mexico on 308 campuses nationwide, while offering forty seven different educational options from which students can choose upon reaching high school. Graduates of CONALEP programs earn the title of Profesional Técnico (Profesional Technician), and cango on to pursue a university education, if they so desire. Examples of some of the areas of study made available to CONALEP students that would be of particular interest to manufacturers that are currently, or will be seeking technical talent in Mexico in the future, include:
- Industrial productivity
- Quality control
- Plastics manufacturing
- Industrial chemistry
- Machine tool design
- Industrial food processing
Mexico’s National Professional Technical Education College also addresses technical education in the areas of:
- Installation and maintenance
- Technology and transport
- Electricity and electronics
Some of the specific courses of study offered in the aforementioned fields include: engine maintenance, control system maintenance, heating and cooling, automotive and diesel engine maintenance, computer and information systems support, telecommunications, industrial electricity, aviation electronics maintenance and mechatronics.
The Colegio National de Educacion Profesional Tecnica sometimes partners with both pubic institutions and private industry.
In recent years, the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and CONALEP collaborated in the Mexican State of Chihuahua to deliver technical education opportunities to at risk youth in Ciudad Juarez. Through the 1,250 Mexican students enrolled at UTEP, (mainly residents of Ciudad Juarez), the two entities were able to use UTEP engineering student volunteers to mentor high school age students, and to implement a robotics program through the university’s College of Engineering.
On the private side, CONALEP has been instrumental in developing technical talent in Mexico by bringing aerospace education to students in the Sonoran city of Guaymas. There program participants have gained “hands on,” plant floor experience and training with manufacturers such as Sargent Controls, Horst Engineering, GS Precision and Benchmark Electronics.