WASHINGTON – North Carolina educational institutions
are joining forces with a key Honduran university to educate and train thousands
of students for the next generation textile workforce to meet a rising tide of
nearshoring and onshoring in Honduras, Central America and the United States.
With backing from the U.S. Department of State, North Carolina State University, Gaston
College, and Catawba Valley Community College signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Honduran-based Central
American Technological University (UNITEC) today at a signing ceremony at
Gaston College in Dallas, N.C.
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 a roundtable discussion with textile
executives and educational leaders as well as today’s MOU signing ceremony.
The U.S. Department of State issued a statement of public support today for the MOU and the unique collaboration between the U.S. and Honduran institutions.
groundbreaking initiative will launch a series of educational workforce
development programs, ranging from training and certificate programs to
undergraduate and graduate degrees, in textile-related areas of study.
partnership comes at a defining moment for the U.S., Honduras and Central
America, which are seeing historical levels of investment in textile and
apparel production stemming from a global supply chain crisis that has driven a
significant shift in sourcing out of Asia to the U.S. and the region. Nearly $1
billion of historic textile and apparel investment is anticipated in the U.S.
and Central America this year alone. And this partnership also creates an
educational pathway to economic opportunity in Honduras and the region that not
only creates a skilled and resilient workforce but can also help to address the
root causes of irregular migration.
Current growth projections indicate a need for more than
10,000 new skilled workers in the textile industry in Honduras alone over the
next five years. In order to meet these needs, educational programming is
needed at all levels.
The U.S. and
this region are inextricably linked through a textile and apparel co-production
chain under the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement
(CAFTA-DR) that has generated $12.6 billion in annual two-way trade in the
sector and supports 1 million workers in the U.S. and the region.
North Carolina plays a central role in this co-production chain. It is
the second largest state for textile employment nationally with over 36,000
workers, and the state’s $2.7 billion in textile-related exports leads the
nation. The Northern Triangle, including Honduras, is a major export
destination for U.S. yarns and fabrics that come back as finished items under
the U.S.-CAFTA-DR trade agreement.
In addition to participating in the signing ceremony and the earlier
industry roundtable, Under Secretary Fernandez, Deputy Assistant Secretary
Knight and Secretary Zelaya toured two of Gildan’s yarn-spinning facilities in
Salisbury, N.C., a leading apparel manufacturer that has invested over $700
million since 2013 across its network of yarn-spinning facilities in the United
“The MOU signed today is a win on so many levels. Firstly, it is a win for U.S. textile manufacturers who operate in both the U.S. and Central America as they build more resilient and economically and environmentally sustainable supply chains. Secondly, it’s a win for the Wilson College of Textiles and NC State in advancing its land-grant mission to support economic prosperity and provide transformative opportunities for people of all ages in North Carolina and beyond in collaboration with our community college partners and now UNITEC in Honduras,” said David Hinks, Dean of the Wilson College of Textiles, North Carolina State University. “Together we will train the next generation of textile workers, leaders and academics in this critical production chain. These workforce programs will have a ripple effect throughout Central America, the region and the United States, spurring job growth and more investment, and not just in textiles and apparel. Hundreds of our industry partners that work with our college closely are looking to re-engineer their supply chains out of China to the United States and Central America. This new partnership will provide a near seamless educational and training pathway to building an even stronger textile and apparel co-production chain between the U.S. and CAFTA-DR countries, which collectively supports 1.1 million workers.”
“This is an incredible opportunity to build a partnership and bridge
between U.S. educational institutions and UNITEC. Through this collaboration,
we will develop education and workforce training programs that will support the
vibrant textile and apparel co-production chain between Honduras and the United
States,” said Dr. John Hauser, President of Gaston College. “The time is now to
invest in the future of the textile and apparel industries, and Gaston College
and Catawba Valley Community College look forward to playing a key role in
training textile operators to support the impressive growth and investment in
this critical sector.”
“By signing this academic MOU, we bring education
and industry together between two economies with a strong history of success in
the textile industry. This is a great example of creating valuable partnerships
aimed at developing the workforce to be more competitive to operate in a global
market,” said Dr. Marlon Brevé-Reyes, UNITEC Rector.
Under Secretary Fernandez said, “The United States
is very supportive of the academic partnership announced here today which will
lead to increased opportunities in co-production and will benefit both the
United States and Central America. Investment in workforce and adherence
to strong labor standards and good labor practices are essential to creating
sustainable and resilient supply chains.”
“President Xiomara Castro welcomes today’s announcement
and is actively engaged in creating a good investment climate in Honduras. The
MOU signed today will help provide economic opportunities to textile workers in
our country and strengthen our ties,” said Secretary Zelaya.
“As we work to create more sustainable and resilient global supply
chains, this sector is in a window of opportunity,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Knight. “The innovations
that U.S. and Central American textile and apparel companies create to reduce
environmental impact and increase transparency across their supply chains can
set them apart from global competitors, and today’s workforce development
initiative is a key element in turning this vision into reality.”
National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim
Glas stated, “This partnership demonstrates the critical need for education and
training programs for the next generation of academics and textile employees to
meet head-on the global sourcing shift that has been driving production out of
Asia to Honduras, the entire CAFTA-DR region and the United States.
Collaboration on this scale will support our critical co-production chain in
the CAFTA-DR region and further enhance investments for the years to come. U.S.
and Honduran government support for this private
sector collaboration is crucial. We sincerely appreciate the statement of
support issued by the State Department, as well as the participation in today’s
events by Under Secretary Fernandez, Deputy Assistant Secretary Knight and
Secretary Zelaya. It’s important these efforts are supported and funded in
order to help expand growth opportunities in the U.S. and Central American
textile and apparel production efforts. This is an exciting time for our
NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association
that represents domestic textile manufacturers.
- U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 534,000 in 2021.
- The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $65.2 billion in 2021.
- U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $28.4 billion in 2021.
- Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $1.85 billion in 2020, the last year for which data is available.
Council of Textile Organizations
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