The Labor Force In Mexico
Labor in Mexico draws from a young population with 42% of its 117 million inhabitants between the ages of 20 and 49 years old.
The workforce is diverse, ranging from production labor (direct labor) to highly skilled professionals (indirect labor), which lends itself well to a variety of manufacturing in Mexico. Also, the maquiladora’s sixty-year history of manufacturing in Mexico has resulted in a well-trained labor force in Mexico, which includes a multigenerational pool of manufacturing talent throughout the country and in almost every industry.
Unskilled direct labor in Mexico is typically defined as those employees who do not have a high level of education and/or do not require a lot of training to successfully achieve their daily tasks. Generally speaking, these employees have no more than a high school education and are not bilingual.
Semiskilled direct labor differs from unskilled in that the employee typically has a minimum of 2-3 years of experience in a specific type of work. Another scenario may be an employee without a lot of experience but with natural skill sets that enable them to be trained for a higher level of work than simple tasks. Sometimes this level of employee will be fully or partially bilingual, as well. Because semiskilled employees in Mexico are typically paid about 20-30% more than unskilled, their level of turnover is generally lower.
Skilled direct labor for manufacturing in Mexico is becoming much more common due to the sophistication of the products being manufactured in Mexico. Skilled direct labor can be found in many maquiladoras, especially those servicing the aerospace, medical device and metal mechanic industries. Generally speaking, skilled labor has at least 5 years of experience in a specialized line of work. Some examples might be a welder for engineered metal products, a cleanroom CNC operator or even a specialty leather-sewing operator. It is not uncommon for a skilled laborer in Mexico to make double the salary of their unskilled counterpart.
Facility management, including plant managers, operations managers, production managers and QC managers make up a large portion of the indirect labor force in Mexico. These highly skilled and well-experienced individuals are increasingly sought after in Mexico.
Demand for engineers in Mexico, including manufacturing, electrical, process and mechanical, is rapidly growing. The aerospace, medical device, electronics, automotive, consumer product and metal mechanics industries are increasingly expanding the scope of their Mexico manufacturing operations, thus requiring a larger pool of engineers to run their facilities. In fact, Mexico graduated more engineers in 2013 than the United States.
Supervisors make up the remainder of indirect labor required in virtually every manufacturing facility in Mexico. Unlike managers in Mexico, supervisors typically receive salaries below their U.S. counterparts, depending on their experience and seniority.