3 Manufacturing Specialties of the Mexican Labor Force

There’s a reason that Mexico has become a leader in manufacturing. As more companies opt to expand into Mexico, they bring with them more knowledge and best practices around advanced manufacturing needs. This growing manufacturing force has incentivized formal training around technical skill sets. In fact, Mexico invests resources to make the country a central destination for businesses to nearshore their production. The labor force in Mexico has benefited from governmental programs that vary in approach but ultimately aim to build the skills and population within every job sector in the country. The result is a highly skilled workforce able to meet the toughest quality demands.

Industry clusters throughout the country allow Mexico's labor force to develop skillsets that U.S. manufacturers can use to their advantage. Whether producing precision machined aerospace components or assembling cables, the Mexican workforce is one of the most specialized in the world.

Over time, a few manufacturing specialties have emerged, including metal fabrication, automotive parts manufacturing, and electronic device production.  Below, we explain how these three sectors have honed certain skill sets – and fueled growth in related industries that share certain processes or skill needs.

1. Metal Fabrication

To maintain a competitive edge, metal fabrication companies need a stable source of labor and a commitment to pursuing opportunities to lower process costs as they arise. For this reason, many metal fabrication companies are moving away from China – a long-time hub for metal fabrication – and moving to Mexico.

Mexico’s stable demographics are helping metal fabricators keep up with the growing demand for their products. As many manufacturing countries face labor shortages, companies have found that Mexico’s labor force is able to fill essential gaps. Moreover, many fabricators are finding they can lower their costs by moving closer to the automotive, aerospace, and electronics OEMs that have likewise moved to Mexico to be closer to their consumer base.

CANACERO, an independent body serving Mexico’s steel industry, reports that Mexico is the 14th largest steel producer in the world. In 2022, the country produced 19.6 million tons of steel. In 2021, Mexico exported more than $21.7 billion in fabricated steel, aluminum, iron, copper, and other metal products, up from $18.2 billion in 2019. And this growth tells only a fraction of the story, as much of this fabricated metal is incorporated into other products before export.

From forming to stamping to machining and more, Mexico’s labor force offers metal assembly expertise that can give companies an edge.

2. Automotive Components

Mexico has become the go-to place for automotive parts manufacturing over the past decade. As of 2022, Mexico was the fourth largest automotive parts producer in the world, exporting $37.9 billion worth of parts. Virtually every major automaker has a presence in Mexico, which has attracted a dense supplier network.

This automotive manufacturing focus has also created a highly skilled labor force, supported by investments in automotive manufacturing-focused vocational training. In fact, the state of Queretaro recently became home to Mexico's first automotive industry university, the Center for Innovation and Automotive Development. Located within Queretaro Polytechnic University and operated in connection with automotive supplier Brose, the center provides the local workforce with the mechanical know-how and advanced skillsets necessary to keep pace with the rapidly evolving automotive sector.

While this formal training can help position workers for managerial roles, many other laborers gain specialized skillsets through on-the-job training. Mexico’s 11 regional automotive industry clusters also provide training and resources around best practices to help local manufacturers develop their workforce.

3. Electronic Devices

From the intricate assembly of complex electronics to the operation of high-tech automation, the electronics manufacturing sector demands specialized skill sets. According to EMS Now, a source of news for the electronics manufacturing services industry, manufacturing workers in Mexico possess in abundance the essential skills needed to produce circuit boards, wire harnesses, and other electronic components. Many of these skills come out of the automotive industry through the development of wiring harnesses, distributors, and electronic ignition systems. As EMS Now puts it, companies “seeking alternatives to their manufacturing operations in China are finding that Mexico’s contract manufacturing partners are able to provide electronic components that are as good, if not better, than those produced in China.”

In 2021, Mexico’s exports of electrical control boards, circuits, wiring, and the electronics they power – from computers to appliances and beyond – totaled $172 billion. The country is the 8th largest producer of electronics worldwide. While companies investing in electronics manufacturing talent can be found throughout Mexico, regional specialties have emerged. Northwest Mexico is known for the production of electronic components incorporated into telecommunications, aerospace equipment, and automotive products. The central corridor is known for technology sub-assemblies, while the northeast has clusters dedicated to developing computers and home appliances.

Recruit a skilled workforce for your operation

These three manufacturing specialties of the Mexican labor force have already attracted manufacturers from related industries, growing new areas of technical expertise. As more industries move into Mexico, companies can expect greater investment and collaboration around specialized training.

Moreover, more Mexicans are growing up in and around manufacturing centers and see their parents employed at the factories. This presents a valuable future resource for manufacturing companies seeking a stable source of labor for their specialized production needs.

Finding talent with these specialized skill sets begins with looking in the right direction. Tetakawi helps manufacturers identify sites with strong demographic advantages and develop strategies tailored to recruit and retain local workers. If you’re ready to establish a presence in Mexico and build your workforce, contact Tetakawi today.

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