Cali-Baja Workforce Has Needs and Opportunities

May 25, 2017

By Ana Gomez Salcido

The unique needs and opportunities for the workforce in the Cali-Baja region were discussed in the Cross-Border Business Forum organized by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Club de Empresarios in Tijuana, on Tuesday, May 23.

The Cross-Border Business Forums are held quarterly, and alternate between the San Diego Regional Chamber office and the Club de Empresarios in Tijuana.

Tuesday’s panelists included Francisco Vidal from Vidal Law Firm; Olivia Graeve, professor at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering; Andy Hall, vice president and program officer of the San Diego Workforce Partnership; Mohammad Karbasi, director of turbomachinery international operations for Solar Turbines; Jose Luis Arroyo, corporate relations director for Cetys University. Nelly Cervantes, Hispanic Media Relations for the Del Mar Fairgrounds, served as the panel moderator.

“We talked about the availability, accessibility and development of our binational workforce. Also about the cooperation that exists between universities and higher education organizations on both sides of the border and how that cooperation then serves the community in San Diego and Baja California, and the businesses on both sides of the border,” said event organizer Courtney Gant to La Prensa San Diego. “The opportunity for the binational workforce to fill certain skilled and mid-level positions, were the employees require special training but not necessarily a four-year degree, was also discussed. There is a big need for this skilled workforce in both sides of the border.”

One of the biggest four-year universities in Tijuana, Cetys University, requires their students to obtain a hands on internship and second language knowledge in order to receive their degree.

“We make formal internships a degree requirement. This means that even if a student gets straight A’s, he or she won’t graduate if they don’t fulfill their internship requirement.” Arroyo said. “The companies get cheap labor for a few months, and the students get world floor experience. It’s a win-win situation.”

One of the local companies that collaborate with Cetys University for the internships programs is Solar Turbines.

“The quality of students that come from Tijuana universities is exceptional. We currently have 50 interns who are waiting to graduate,” said Karbasi. “With the apprentice program we help the students graduate because is their degree requirement, and it also helps the student to figure out if that’s the job they want to do. And we also do recruiting, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Among the needs of the binational workforce, the panel brought up the limited number of certain types of work visas.

Consul General of the United States in Tijuana William A. Ostick, who was present at the meeting, used this subject to encourage business leaders to participate in the commentary period of the NAFTA renegotiation.

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