With the end to Mexico’s state monopoly over energy and the opening up to foreign investment in 2013, new employment opportunities are arising in the renewable energy sector. But what skills do these jobs require? And is the workforce ready to meet private sector demands?
With this in mind, students majoring in Industrial Electricity and Alternative Energy at CONALEP, one of Mexico’s technical upper secondary school systems, will soon be offered a new specialty geared towards bridging the skills gap in Mexico’s renewable energy sector.
This month, a brand new 270-hour course, developed by the Rutas program, which is funded by USAID and implemented by the International Youth Foundation, will be offered to 70 students in the northern state of Nuevo León before being rolled-out nationally to approximately 5,000 students per school year. Over the course of three semesters, young people will learn the basics of the energy sector and its extensive supply chain as well as the infrastructure and processes related to electricity generation, transfer and distribution.
To help identify the critical skills needed to ensure this burgeoning sector’s effectiveness and sustainability, the Rutas team used international standards developed by the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) in coordination with multinational companies such as Berkshire Hathaway Energy, FirstEnergy, Iberdrola, NextEra Energy, Inc., and Xcel Energy.
The team also gained access to curricular materials developed by the Get into Energy consortium, comprised of seven community colleges in Arizona, USA, which it then adapted to the Mexican context.
And Mexico’s Undersecretary of Energy Planning played a vital role in validating the curriculum’s alignment with the needs of the renewable energy industry sector and the employment opportunities it is offering throughout the country.
Rutas is a member of NEO, a pioneering initiative led by the IDB – through its Multilateral Investment Fund and Labor Markets Unit – the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and its partners: Arcos Dorados, Caterpillar Foundation, CEMEX, Fondation Forge, Microsoft, SESI y Walmart.
The New Employment Opportunities (NEO) initiative brings together companies, governments and civil society in Latin America and the Caribbean to improve employment opportunities for 1 million youth, half of them women, by 2022.
By building public-private partnerships to align public school systems and vocational training institutions with the needs of dynamic local industries, NEO is increasing young people’s opportunities of finding well paid jobs in growing sectors and therefore contributing to their country’s social and economic development.
Rutas works in close collaboration with the NEO Mexico alliance in Nuevo León.
NEO currently has projects in 12 countries across the region. In 2016 it will be launching in Jamaica, Peru and El Salvador and projects are expected to be approved in Brazil and Chile.