Blanca Treviño, the CEO of Mexican-based IT giant Softtek, has written an interesting open letter to the future President of the United States, urging him or her to collaborate with Mexico in the fourth industrial revolution, an opportunity that, Trevino states, could yield a US$100 trillion dividend.
The letter was a response to the question “What would you tell the next U.S. president about Latin America?”, asked by business daily, Americas Quarterly. One of Trevino’s key responses to this questions was that technology will be the next major driver of North American growth.
In the letter, Treviño stresses that US-Mexico relations and trade are two points of contention in this year’s election campaign, and that whoever takes the mantle of President will be responsible for overseeing the next stage in the planet’s technological and digital evolution.
“A vast supply of affordable energy, advances in robotics and 3D printing, the development of stronger and lighter materials, and other software-driven innovations are generating manufacturing capabilities that have already increased the productivity and efficiency of North American–based manufacturing,” she writes. “You, [the next president] should take concrete steps to take advantage of these developments — in partnership with Mexico.”
Treviño continues by highlighting the importance of international trade for the US, stating that more than 38 million US jobs depending on it. She then drops the bombshell: The second-largest consumer of US-manufactured goods is Mexico.
“If you pursue an isolationist trade policy, both Mexico and the US will suffer,” Treviño stresses. “Six million US jobs rely on trade with Mexico alone. The country is the top export market for California, Arizona and Texas, and trade with Mexico generates over 200,000 jobs in several different states, including Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. US imports from Mexico are made up of 40% US-made components. Mexico-based plants, in other words, help sustain US industry.”
According to the letter, the US tech industry employs nearly 7 million people, and employment is forecast to grow 18% percent by 2022. The focus of this statistic is to drive home the message that bi-national collaboration is dependent on the labor force, because the US simply cannot source all of these new workers internally.
“The influence of information technology, and the need for the right skills, has become so pervasive that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that by 2020, as many as 1 million programming jobs will be left vacant,” the letter states. “In a July 2015 Brookings Institute event, Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) stated: “Every manufacturing facility I’ve ever visited says, ‘I have jobs available. I can’t find people to fill the position with the skills necessary.’”
Treviño points out that today’s North American labor market is still attuned to the manufacturing jobs of the 1980s and 1990s, while the skills needed for this next industrial revolution are profoundly different. Modern factories need workers who with programming knowledge and experience with handling more sophisticated equipment.
“The good news is that leaders in both countries have recognized the challenge,” she explains. “In 2014, the US-Mexico Foundation for Science proposed a Bi-national Intelligent Manufacturing Initiative (BIMI), which is aimed at expanding training on both sides of the border to support the use of information and communication technologies in all aspects of the design process and the manufacture of advanced products. This initiative sets as a priority developing a new labor force for “intelligent manufacturing” to make the border region more competitive and attract investment.”
The letter concludes with Treviño imploring the next president to honor the commitment laid out in the February 2016 US-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue forum, in which the US pledged to work through BIMI to streamline IT capacities into the manufacturing process of both countries.
Her final message is clear and simple: “Work with Mexico to reap the benefits of the next industrial revolution.”