BMW San Luis Potosí Hunts for Mexican Talent

By Ivan Iglesias

Jean Five years after the BMW Group Plant San Luis Potosí (SLP) began the implementation of a successful German teaching model based on the promotion of the technical skills of human talent, Mexican apprentices who graduate from its “Dual Vocational Training Program” have continued to acquire the necessary foundations for a solid professional future, whether within BMW or in any other company in the automotive industry.

In their SLP Training Center, many young people selected from nearby towns immerse themselves in the technical practice that will lead them to be true leaders of the Mexican automotive sector, according to Thomas Dehn, training manager of the BMW’s SLP Plant.

Starting in 2015 …

In 2015, BMW SLP was one of the first companies in that state to implement a teaching model that has focused on promoting the development specialized technical skills in young people, in areas such as mechatronics, production and automotive mechanics.

At a global level, part of the BMW Group’s reputation is based on the dedication and technical experience of all its employees, which is why, before its inauguration, the SLP Plant established as a fundamental objective to promote talent and develop the potential of young professionals in the region. “With this, we give better opportunities to develop talent. This is truly essential because BMW’s success relies on the dedication and technical expertise of its people, in offering training opportunities. This is essential at all levels of our network of plants around the world,” says Dehn.

In this sense, since 2015, the SLP Plant was positioned as a high-level educational center in the state by implementing its “Dual Vocational Training Program,” which is a teaching model originated in BMW Germany and is based on the promotion of technical skills of human talent, with the aim of training professionals who immerse themselves in practice, combining the learning and knowledge obtained in school with workshops that promote experience in a real work environment.

Recently, after five years of creating this program, BMW’s SLP Plant has educated four generations of apprentices who completed technical careers in mechatronics, production and automotive mechanics. In this regard, Jörg Willimayer, president and CEO of BMW’s SLP Plant, stated: “Dual professional training is an essential axis within the training offered by BMW worldwide, since the development of skills and competencies of our employees is a key factor to have successful operations. Our purpose at SLP is to establish ourselves as an important pole of growth in education and community development.”

For his part, Dehn stated: “we have become one of the most important [educational institutions] in the San Luis Potosí region. This is fundamental for our own work in the future as we are promoting work in Mexico and, thus, we will ensure the development of its young people, who are the support of any economy.”

The results of the Dual Program have been expanded through strategic collaboration agreements with five educational institutions, which has resulted in the training of almost 350 apprentices who have acquired specialized technical training. Likewise, the SLP Plant is a worldwide benchmark thanks to the fact that 36% of the participants in this educational program are women, thereby making Mexican women more and more interested in technical areas within the automotive industry.

The ProLead program

For their part, border stateBut this is not the only training program plan offered by BMW Mexico. Recently, the brand took an additional step to drive leadership: the SLP Plant became the first company to offer the program “ProLead: Meister in Industrial Mechatronics” to its employees with higher technical university level, which is based on the certification “Meister” offered in Germany by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Munich and Upper Bavaria (IHK München) and developed in Mexico by the BMW Group in conjunction with the Mexican-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CAMEXA).

The objective of this certification is to strengthen the technical and management knowledge of the company’s internal talent, in order to develop solid process leaders, which is the most important link between the production areas and the administration of the BMW Plant.

Currently, the first generation of employees enrolled in the ProLead program is made up of nine recently graduated engineers from different universities in the country, as well as nine graduated employees with a technical level from the areas of assembly, painting and plant maintenance.

The selection process

The way in which candidates are selected to participate in BMW educational programs at SLP complies with various standards that ensure curricular coupling with Mexican and German educational institutions, while guaranteeing high levels of excellence. For example, once the admission application has been filled out, applicants take an online test for the selection process.

The people who obtain the highest marks are invited to a test day at the SLP Plant, in which applicants demonstrate their qualities, among other things and prepare a final project. In a final interview, applicants present a short self-introduction in English. The results of all these tests ultimately decide who gets a training position at the BMW Group.

Community boost

BMW Group Plant SLP has signed educational agreements with different institutions to implement training programs: the Universidad Tecnológica SLP (UTSLP), the Conalep Plantel Ing. Manuel Moreno, the Grupo Cedva, the College of Scientific and Technological Studies Plantel Real de Minas (CECyTE), and the CBTiS . Subsequently, new generations of apprentices selected for the Dual Program receive technical knowledge and acquire specialized skills, which help them boost their careers in the sector.

“BMW has really paid particular attention to the investment of recruiting young people and promoting their all-round development,” said Dehn. “At BMW we will continue with our educational strategy to promote competitiveness and stimulate the professionalism of local talent in order to turn them into a true source of leadership and thus actively participate in the Mexican automotive sector. This will remain our goal for a long time to come.”

For his part, Willimayer emphasized: “since we arrived in San Luis Potosí our goal has been to make this plant a world benchmark for innovation and quality, so we will definitely continue to bet on promoting a specialized and avant-garde education in the state that promotes the manufacture of premium vehicles from Mexico to the world.”