Meeting skills demand, CONALEP, Queretaro: a local case study from Mexico
The provision of vocational education and training (VET) in Mexico is patchy. In contrast to other OECD countries, Mexico has put much less emphasis on vocational tertiary education during the last two decades. VET has been targeted in Mexico mainly through the National College of Technical Professional Education (CONALEP). Established in 1978 to train middle-level technicians for the industrial and service sectors of the economy, it is represented in every state and is funded in part by federal funding and by each state. A key strength is that each college designs courses according to its region’s skills needs.
CONALEP was established in the State of Queretaro, North-Central Mexico, in 1996 and now has four campuses. It targets the state’s strategic sectors - dominated by tractor companies. CONALEP provides training for SMEs as well as larger firms and courses are subject to a local feasibility study and can be tailored to meet specific company needs. Apprenticeships in the form of internships are provided and participants earn a diploma upon completion. Students study for two years and in their third year they spend time with a company developing professional practices. The programme is successful in matching students with employers: some 60% are recruited by the company.
Effectiveness could be improved by having more co-ordination between the departments of economy and education at state level to decide strategy and funding. Greater collaboration is beginning to happen between CONALEP and the new university in aeronautics, the National Aeronautics University of Queretaro, to oversee a programme of training delivery.
OECD (2012), Report on the Local Dimension of SME and Entrepreneurship Issues and Policies in Mexico, Local Economic and Employment Development Programme, forthcoming.