Mexican engineering skills expand
“Mexican engineering students outnumber those enrolled in Germany and Brazil.”
Mexico is rising in the international manufacturing value chain. One of the reasons for this is the progress that the country has made over the last several decades. When the maquiladora industry got its start in the country during the middle 1960s, the country was recognized for its role in the execution of simple assembly. As industrialization progressed, Mexico took a step forward in adding value to manufactured goods by engaging in the core manufacturing activities required to produced goods that are competitive in the international marketplace. Today, it is Mexican engineering that is beginning to attract the attention of foreign investors.
Today, Mexican engineering students number close to six hundred thousand. This figure has doubled in size over the course of the last decade. In comparative terms, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, “the country has 4.9 engineering students per one thousand people.” This compares with 3.6 per one thousand in the United States. Furthermore, in the aggregate, Mexican engineering students that are enrolled in advanced degree programs outnumber students in similar programs in both Germany and Brazil.
Again, according to Bloomberg, Cary Leslie, the director of engineering in Mexico for the Chrysler Group, asserts that “it typically takes 1.3 engineers in Mexico to do the work of one similarly educated individual.” Leslie observes that this differential is due to the fact that Mexican engineers, on average, have eight years of on the job experience, while those working at the company’s Michigan facilities in the United States have been on the job for an average of a quarter century. It can be inferred that, as Mexican engineers gain experience and job tenure, this productivity gap will diminish. Major US car manufacturers such as Ford and Chrysler have found that “labor costs including benefits for Mexican engineering personnel typically represent about forty percent of U.S. costs.”
Given the rapid rate of industrialization occurring in the automobile industry over the last several years, Mexican engineering skills are becoming increasingly in demand. Mexican personnel with such skills can expect to be paid forty-five percent, on average, more than their unskilled peers. This growing cadre of technical personnel is one of the engines that is increasing the size of the Mexican middle class.
Automakers in particular recognize the Mexican engineering skill that has been and is currently being developed by the country’s institutions of higher learning. Achievements by Mexican engineers working in the global automotive industry include:
- the filing of forty U.S. patents by Ford’s Mexican development group over the past three years;
- the establishment of a Technical Center in Toluca by Nissan that is staffed with five hundred engineers;
- the design of engine parts, fuel pumps, transmission components and electrical systems by one thousand three hundred Mexican engineers at Delphi’s Ciudad Juarez technical center.
As Mexican engineering gains in skills, and global prowess and prestige, consumers world-wide can expect to purchase things that are not only manufactured in Mexico, but also designed and engineered there, as well.