On February 27, 2014, over fifty representatives of U.S. and Mexican Governments, private sector, academia, and civil society met at Northern Virginia Community College to address workforce development needs through greater higher education collaboration. This meeting of the Working Group on Community Colleges and Workforce Development was part of the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research launched by President Obama and President Pena Nieto in May 2013. Mexico and the United States recognize that educational and academic exchange is a fundamental part of the ongoing High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED), which focuses on strategic economic and commercial priorities to promote growth, job creation, and North America competitiveness.
The working group discussed ways to expand educational and economic opportunities and to develop a 21st century workforce to bring increased prosperity in the region.
U.S. Department of State Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan, Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations Under Secretary Sergio Alcocer, and Dr. Robert Templin, President of the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) opened the working group meeting. In her opening remarks, Assistant Secretary Ryan highlighted the importance of linking U.S. and Mexican higher education institutions to support job creation, innovation, and broad-based economic prosperity in both countries. Under Secretary Alcocer mentioned the commitment of the leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico in the recently held North American Leaders’ Summit in Toluca, Mexico to promote a workforce with the skills necessary for the region´s success in the 21st century global economy. Discussions focused on expanding institutional partnerships between U.S. community colleges, Mexican technical and polytechnic universities, and the private sector.
Co-sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and Northern Virginia Community College, the meeting included U.S. representatives from the Departments of Commerce, Education, and State, USAID, the National Science Foundation, numerous community colleges from throughout the United States, and the private sector. Mexican participants represented the Ministries of Foreign Relations and Labor and Social Welfare, the National Council for Science and Technology, Mexican higher education institutions, and private sector. Binational representatives of the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (COMEXUS) and the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science (FUMEC) also attended.
This meeting follows the U.S.-Mexico Forum’s first working group meeting on promoting student exchange held in Mexico City on January 15. U.S. and Mexican stakeholders will convene for the next working group, focusing on the special potential of the border region, at the University of Texas at El Paso on March 5 and 6. Subsequent working groups will focus on research and innovation, English and Spanish language acquisition, and student and scholar exchange as both countries seek to expand economic opportunities for their citizens, develop a shared vision on educational cooperation, and share best practices in higher education and innovation.