One of Nuevo León’s greatest assets is its universities, which are helping to develop a well-educated workforce. The state’s universities play a big role in helping foster collaboration between government agencies, industrial clusters and private companies, as well as helping to prepare the next generation of technical professionals. “Leadership is one of the main skills that needs to improve in Mexico, and the academic-industry link will ensure companies are provided with a well-trained labour force,” Jorge Escarcega, general manager at metrology manufacturer Mahr, told OBG.
In the 2017/18 school year 48.4% of all young people aged 18 to 22 in Nuevo León were enrolled at a university, well above Mexico’s average of 38.4%. Leading universities in Nuevo León are also working to tailor their programmes to better meet the hiring needs of the state’s industrial employers.
The Autonomous University of Nuevo León (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, UANL) is the state’s most well-known public university, while Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores, ITESM) is Nuevo León’s best-known private university. The University of Monterrey (Universidad de Monterrey, UDEM) and Regiomontana University (Universidad Regiomontana, U-ERRE), both private, round out the state’s educational offerings.
ITESM, UANL and UDEM ranked second, sixth and 30th, respectively, out of 50 universities in Mexico, according to a 2017 survey by Latin America-focused news outlet América Economía. These three institutions, along with U-ERRE, are well connected to the state’s private sector and actively work with local business leaders and state-level politicians to ensure that the educational institutions are actively working to help maximise the state’s long-term competitive edge in industry and innovation by preparing a new generation of students for careers in an evolving economy. At ITESM, for instance, administrators are introducing a programme called Tec21, which will allow students to work on real-world problems and gain more exposure to local companies while still in university. Pablo de la Peña Sánchez, administrator at ITESM, told OBG, “Tec21 is a fundamental change in teaching methodology. This model will allow students to develop new skills; it is more flexible and will be able to keep up-to-date with technological changes.”
While many universities in the state are working to update and enhance their own programmes and curricula, Nuevo León’s government is working to coordinate the broader strategy of collaboration between industry and educational institutions. “Universities need to collaborate with companies in order to promote innovation in the country, and the government is key to promoting this type of alliance,” Carlos Antonio Coello, rector of the Centre of University Studies of Monterrey, told OBG. Roberto González, director-general at Scanpaint, a surface finishing service, agreed on the importance of government involvement in fostering innovation. “Innovation must be driven not only by companies, but also by improvements in regulation,” he told OBG. In May 2017 Fernando Turner Dávila, the state’s secretary of economy and labour, introduced the Nuevo León 4.0 strategy, which brings together government and industry leaders with the deans of UANL, ITESM, UDEM and U-ERRE to prepare the workforce for the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0.
Exposure to advanced technology and production processes is not limited to the confines of Nuevo León’s top universities: the state’s technical schools are also working to update their curricula to prepare graduates for work in a rapidly evolving industrial economy. As part of the Nuevo León 4.0 initiative, one of the state’s technical training schools, the Institute of Training and Education for Labour, is upgrading its facilities in order to integrate new courses on 3D printing and other industry-specific technologies.
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