On May 23, SDWP COO Andy Hall participated in a San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce cross-border business forum in Tijuana, a quarterly gathering that provides business leaders knowledge and resources needed to thrive within the binational marketplace.
The theme of the most recent forum, Accessing Cali-Baja’s Unique Workforce, offered guidance for Mexico and U.S. academia and companies to tap into the diverse and talented human capital in the border region.
Also on the panel were Francisco Vidal of Vidal Law Firm, Dr. Olivia Graeve, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering, Mohammad Karbasi, director of turbomachinery international operations at Solar Turbines, and José Luis Arroyo, director of corporate relations at CETYS University. The panel was moderated by Nelly Cervantes, who handles Hispanic media relations for the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
The panel discussed programs currently in place to develop a binational workforce, issues in cross-border workforce development, regional workforce needs and opportunities for business expansion through a binational workforce, and the potential and current impacts of immigration regulations on the human capital exchange and growth of business in our region.
Hall referenced a survey SDWP conducted of thousands of businesses in San Diego where the overwhelming response pointed to one common challenge: a shortage of talent to fill middle-skill jobs. These jobs typically require less than a four-year degree but more than a high school diploma. Examples of these jobs include machinists, welders, health care administrators and pharmaceutical technicians. There is currently still a general lack of career awareness at the K–16 (K–12 plus four-year university) level, and a lack of integration between what is taught and the skills needed in the workplace. According to Hall, solutions for this problem will need to be more focused on the needs of the regional workforce.
“Cross-border partnerships, dialogue, and collaboration is critical to the San Diego/Tijuana binational region,” says Hall. “Alignment and cooperation on workforce and economic development are keys to our border region’s prosperity and growth. It was great to share SDWP’s perspective and hear from other experts on opportunities and challenges of our binational workforce.”