MEXICO CITY — Injection molders in the booming market of Mexican border town Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, have come up with a novel solution to their most acute problem—the shortage of skilled labor. Rather than go it alone in a cutthroat market, they are mounting a team effort to train—and retain—personnel.
Sergio Sosa, owner of Sosa Molding Plastics SA de CV, had the idea.
Twenty-four technicians from seven firms are taking a course for trainers designed by the Center for Applied Chemical Studies in Saltillo, Mexico. Once they complete the course, which began May 13, they will go back to the firms to teach newcomers — ``but not just in their own company,'' Sosa said.
``Instead, they'll rotate around the plants. In conventional training schemes, the trainees jump ship as soon as they finish the course and find out they can get $5 more elsewhere. This way, the companies have a no-poaching pact,'' said Sosa, who also is the Chihuahua state president of Asociaci¢n Nacional de Industrias del Plastico A.C. (Anipac), the national trade group.
All seven companies are Anipac members.
For Socorro Sedano, Anipac director, the initiative is particularly important because, within months, import duties will be imposed on parts imported from the Far East by the maquiladoras that dominate Ciudad Juarez.
``That will create new opportunities for our members in Juarez, but it will face them with a new challenge, too. Under [the North American Free Trade Agreement], you see, companies in the U.S. and Canada will enjoy the very same advantages as we do.
``That means our firms have to become much more competitive, which is why training is so vital.''
Sosa, who owns plants in Chihuahua and Mexico City, says the growth of Juarez's plastics industry has been phenomenal.
``Just 10 years ago, there wasn't a single injection molder in Juarez. Now there are 50, and about 10 times as many in the plastics industry as a whole,'' he said. ``The result is a tremendous shortage of skilled labor.''
The main problem, he said, is ``the absence of a plastics culture.''
``That's why the new training program is so important.''