By on May 1, 2017

tesla factory fremont

Tesla Motors is headhunting engineers from Mexico to work on automated equipment at its Freemont, California factory. While the brand can still call the forthcoming Model 3 “the most American” car in the world — once it takes delivery of Nevada-produced 2170 battery packs — it might not be able to make the same claim for its workforce.

The brand has had union troubles with the German robotics unit supplying the automated assembly lines essential for the Model 3’s timely production. While the recruitment effort in California may not be a direct response to that, it is definitely part of Tesla’s efforts to ensure it can adhere to the timetable it has set for the electric vehicle. The company has preorders out the wazoo and wants to build 500,000 cars a year at the Fremont plant by 2018, which requires a sextupling of 2016’s production figures. 

Obviously, the production upsurge would be impossible without added man hours. According to postings on LinkedIn found by Reuters, Tesla’s hiring push in California has expanded beyond the confines of the U.S. border. Items posted by Tesla’s senior technical recruiter, David Johnson, listed 15 types of engineers the company hopes to find during a May 5-8 recruiting event in Monterrey, Mexico. Johnson specifically wrote that he was interested in interviewing engineers with experience in body in white manufacturing.

Another Tesla employee, Dominik Knapp, also posted about the event on his LinkedIn page saying “Check this out if you are interested to work with the most complex and automated equipment in our Fremont plant! We are looking for controls, robotic and weld engineers!” Knapp also referenced the successful recruitment drive Tesla held in Mexico City last year in a response to interested parties.

While there will be some speculation that Tesla’s outsourcing of engineers is down to cost-saving measures, president of SAE International Doug Patton claims there really is an absence of adequate engineering talent in the industry. “There are many more jobs than engineers, this is an engineering problem across the board,” he said.

Patton went on to explain, while automakers and suppliers routinely seek help from their Mexican plants on a short-term basis, he was unaware of any company recruiting on the same “wholesale basis” as Tesla appears to be. However, we don’t know how lengthy an engagement the manufacturer has planned. Tesla has yet to respond to any request for comment on its Mexican hiring plan.

[Image: Tesla]

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25 Comments on “Tesla Is Recruiting Mexican Engineers for Its California Assembly Plant...”


  • avatar
    carguy

    Tech companies have been recruiting from all over thew world for quite some time so it should not come as a shock that Tesla is doing the same.

    My questions to TTAC is: Would you have written this story had they have recruited them from Canada? Is it newsworthy that Mexico has good engineers?

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Will the Mexican engineers be permanent hires with green cards and the potential to become naturalized American citizens or is this just another H-1B scam to get cheap temporary help?

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      Hopefully the former, both for our country and the immigrants themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      My question exactly, Kendahl. Companies keep complaining there’s a “shortage of qualified American workers.” What they really mean is that they want qualified workers but don’t want to pay them prevailing U.S. wages.

      Tesla is the same company that warns factory-worker applicants to expect incessant overtime because “changing the world is not a 9-to-5 job.” Apparently proclaiming that your own for-profit company has some sort of larger mission excuses all sorts of inhumanity toward the people who make it work.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Misleading headline.

    It should say “Tesla Expands Its Search for Engineers to Mexico”. Otherwise, this clickbait implies that Tesla is recruiting cheap labor to the exclusion of US engineers.

    Only when reading carefully does it say:
    “Tesla’s hiring push in California has expanded beyond the confines of the U.S. border”
    and
    “there really is an absence of adequate engineering talent in the industry”.

    I will add this, however:
    1. As an engineer, in one sense I’d love to work for Tesla on their exciting new products.
    2. I have no automotive engineering experience, so I’m of little use to the company in the short term.
    3. At 53 years old, I *might* demand more salary than the 30-somethings they really want.
    4. I’m not interested in killing myself with 70-hour workweeks. This is probably the norm for many people there these days.
    5. It costs a lost less to relocate an engineer from Mexico to Fremont than it does from Pennsylvania.
    6. As much as I think I’d love to live in the Fremont area, my family wouldn’t, so there’s that.
    7. Some/many engineers would view Tesla as a long-term employment risk.

    When you overlay the conditions required to actually hire an engineer at Tesla (or anywhere, actually), the viable candidate pool becomes very small indeed. I will guess that most engineers aren’t looking for a change in jobs or location, and most are not qualified to work in the specialties Tesla needs. On top of that, Tesla may have already vacuumed up most of the available people already.

    For example, my last employer, looking for an audio engineer with a certain background, finally hired a guy from Georgia and relocated him to PA. They couldn’t just hire a dude who ‘likes stereos’.

    So it makes sense to me that Tesla would be recruiting in Mexico, and probably Canada as well. Maybe they can even hire some of the workers from the closed GM plant in Venezuela.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I just got an invitation to apply from GM UK. I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet and I’m not sure what the position is.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      @SCE

      >> 1. As an engineer, in one sense I’d love to work for Tesla on their exciting new products.

      Me too.

      >> 2. I have no automotive engineering experience, so I’m of little use to the company in the short term.

      Me too.

      >> 3. At 53 years old, I *might* demand more salary than the 30-somethings they really want.

      10 years younger, but probably true.

      >> 4. I’m not interested in killing myself with 70-hour workweeks. This is probably the norm for many people there these days.

      Me neither!

      >> 5. It costs a lost less to relocate an engineer from Mexico to Fremont than it does from Pennsylvania.

      Dunno if that’s always true, but maybe.

      >> 6. As much as I think I’d love to live in the Fremont area, my family wouldn’t, so there’s that.

      If you like craft beer, Oakland is much better.

      >> 7. Some/many engineers would view Tesla as a long-term employment risk.

      I wouldn’t care so much. I became inured to the volatility of the tech industry long ago.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        +1 — except that I’m 15 years younger.

        I’d love to work for Tesla, but:

        a) I like my family too much to out in those 70 hour weeks.

        and

        b) I’d need some OJT to change engineering specialties, and I doubt Tesla would want to pay me Bay Area wages while I adapt my skills to meet to their needs.

        and

        c) I’ve run the numbers, and you’d have to pay me about $250k/year to maintain my family’s modest lifestyle (1-story ranch house near good schools) in the Bay Area. That’s about double the highest salary I’ve ever made.

        I’m one of those fast learn earning software engineers who never saw the sense in specializing when I can just learn a new job in 6 months. But that does not work anymore, because I’m expected to be up to speed in less than a month these days in the current workings environment, and my current level. So, I’m not applying to Tesla because I know I’d be walking in to a shop where their expectations won’t be compatible with my lifestyle.

        If changing the world were a 40-hour a week job that paid more than poverty wages in the Bay Area ($120k/year gets you graduate-school-grade housing, which isn’t kid-friendly), my wife and I would both be there in a heartbeat and ready to work and make a difference in both of our specialties (I have a masters degree, she has a PHD). But, every time I think about applying, I remember how Elon Musk said “changing the world is jot a 40-hour a week job”, and I’m reminded that my 3 kids need need me to a degree where even 40 hour weeks can be a stretch. So, I never put in my application.

        Instead, I’m supporting my family and tinkering with AI software after the kids go to bed. Maybe I’ll start up a small business (I have one in mind that should be able to pull in a few dozen grand a year) once I finish learning that software stack. Lifestyle win.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Fremont, not Freemont.

  • avatar
    ttiguy

    +1 to all of the other comments about this being clickbait BS.

    Im a manufacturing engineer in the auto industry (OEM) and I can tell from first hand experience that there is a serious lack of qualified candidates to fill most every automation-related job in the field. This phenomenon is also at least partially to explain why Apple and all of the rest of the tech companies operate in China. They can have literal armies of qualified individuals on hand at a moments notice. There was a somewhat famous Apple/Steve Jobs article in the NYT about this problem that perfectly explained the situation. That was from almost 10 years ago now, Its only gotten worse! For whatever reason kids are led to believe that there is no future in mfg (engineering) so they are discouraged from going into it, when just the opposite is true.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      “For whatever reason kids are led to believe that there is no future in mfg (engineering) so they are discouraged from going into it,”

      In my experience, STEM (guess what the E stands for) was pushed super hard in high school.

      • 0 avatar
        ttiguy

        Maybe it was truly pushed in your school and people actually understood and encouraged the field but in the vast majority of situations thats not true. Even if they went into engineering its usually computer science or bio-medical or something. All very good fields in their own right, but not nearly as badly in need of fresh new talent out of school. Hence this is why Tesla is trying to steal rival talent from competitors in MX. And yes…….they do have a lot of talented people down there. The plants do not run themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @ttiguy:

      Well said. I’m sure that as an engineer working in the auto industry, you’re very aware of Tesla and its thirst for engineers, yet for very good reasons you don’t apply to work there.

      And you’re right about the message kids hear these days – they’re directed toward IT, business, medical, or service industries (all important), but engineering is too often left for ‘someone else’. I’m even amazed at how many engineers graduate with no hands-on experience in their own field.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        My son graduated from a well-known engineering school and a large number of his classmates were hell bent on becoming video game engineers. I tried to convince some of them to look into areas similar to games like avionics and even to take a look at SpaceX. No, they wanted to develop games. Not sure where they ended up. Pretty much everyone out of his graduating class got jobs or went on to work on their PhDs, or in my son’s case, to start a company with his senior project.

        The biggest hiring bonuses and salaries went to chemical engineers. There was a feeding frenzy on those guys. Even after they started their jobs, companies they turned down kept coming back with more and more money. I think some of those kids started with $85k salaries.

        • 0 avatar
          healthy skeptic

          Your son was wise to avoid the video game industry. Total underpaid sweatshop stuff.

          It’s kind of like the movie industry: people fall all over themselves to work for it for ultra-low wages, because of the “glam factor.” Except that in the movies, at least there is a bit of glam to be had for a select few.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I will say that when when a corporate-type says: “There’s a shortage of X workers”, the most common translation is “There’s a shortage of X workers at the salary I’d prefer to pay.”

    That’s not always the case, but it certainly is the norm.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Well yeah, because I am certain there are no out of work American workers that can do this with all of the US plants that have closed. This reeks of a visa scam.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      This, but I’d like to add that it’s more “We have a shortage of workers who will either a) accept the salary we’d like to pay and/or b) aren’t fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus, so that we don’t have spend a red cent getting them up to speed”.

      I run into this a lot, even hiring STEM: management is now pushing perpetual contracts, co-op students on work term and overseas temps. No one wants to hire people and _certainly_ no one wants to train them, even though the whole point of getting a post-secondary degree is to learn how to learn.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Maybe they could rent a crew from Elio since it doesn’t look like that program is going anywhere soon.

  • avatar
    Whittaker

    I guess any piece that mentions crime, Mexico, mass transit, guns, the EPA, etc…will immediately be labeled click-bait by the clickers.
    I had thought they were going to focus on House Baruth but it looks like any writer who isn’t sufficiently progressive is a target.
    And now they are recruiting their friends to sign up and troll.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    Why is this story post-worthy on TTAC? It basically says “Tesla attempts to hire engineers wherever it can get them.” As any company does.

  • avatar
    Salzigtal

    Given that there are several hundred other firms actively recruiting engineers to work in Silicon Valley and the housing costs, Musk may have to look even further away.

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