A memorandum of understanding (MOU) recently was signed between North Carolina State University, Gaston College and Catawba Valley Community College, and Honduras-based Central American Technological University (UNITEC) in an effort to educate and train a next-generation textile workforce using training and certificate programs as well as undergraduate and graduate degree programs. An increase in nearshoring and onshoring in Honduras, Central America and the United States is leaving the industry with a shortage of trained workers.
With almost $1 billion of textile and apparel investment in the United States and Central America anticipated this year, employee growth projections over the next five years suggest more than 10,000 new skilled workers will be needed to meet the demands of the industry in Honduras alone.
The MOU, backed by the U.S. Department of State, also creates an educational pathway to economic opportunity in Honduras and the region.
A signing ceremony was held at Gaston College in Dallas, N.C. Both U.S. and Honduran government officials — including Jose W. Fernandez, under secretary of state for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment; Jennifer Knight, deputy assistant secretary for
Textiles, Consumer Goods and Materials at the U.S. Department of Commerce; and Hector Zelaya, private secretary to Honduran President Xiomara Castro — participated in the signing, as well as a roundtable discussion that followed. In addition, the government officials toured two of Gildan Activewear’s yarn spinning facilities in Salisbury, N.C.