Haiti Apparel Center Opens To Train Workers For Country’s Garment Industry

The Haiti Apparel Center (HAC) officially opened last week in the SONAPI industrial park in
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to provide professional training for workers in the country’s garment
industry. The center, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is located
in a 6,000-square-meter facility made available by the Government of Haiti and refurbished and
operated by Silver Spring, Md.-based international development organization CHF International, and
has implemented a six-week training program developed by Cary, N.C.-based Textile/Clothing
Technology Corp. ([TC]

HAC will train more than 2,000 workers annually for positions ranging from sewing machine
operators to mechanics to quality-control supervisors, providing skilled workers to an industry
that had been shrinking even prior to the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. In
addition, senior managers, factory owners and business leaders may attend executive seminars
offered by the center. According to [TC]
2, the professional training program was initiated in the summer of 2009 for the
training of sewing machine operators. USAID reports that more than 50 operators and 13 operator
trainers have completed the program to date.

According to USAID, the center will help Haiti take full advantage of the Haitian Economic
Lift Program (HELP) Act, under which the country’s exports, including apparel, have expanded access
to U.S. markets. HELP also provides support for the rebuilding of Haiti’s apparel industry —
including building renovations, machinery replacement and professional training — which will cost
an estimated $38 million, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

“The apparel center promotes economic recovery and long-term growth and helps Haiti tap into
the tremendous potential of the garment industry,” said Paul Weisenfeld, coordinator of USAID’s
Haiti Task Team. “It will provide opportunities to improve the lives of thousands by increasing job
skills and enabling Haitians to earn more. In the last 30 years, the number of skilled garment
workers in Haiti has dramatically declined, but we hope to reverse that trend.”

August 17, 2010