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Research and Innovation

Honduras’ First Textile Education and Training Program Launches 

NC State University, with the support of USAID and in partnership with UNITEC, launched Hilando Oportunidades, which will support workforce development in the northern region of Honduras.

A group stands in front of a step-and-repeat banner with logos from the Wilson College of Textiles, Unitec, Gaston College and Shimmy.

An international partnership between NC State University’s Wilson College of Textiles, Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana (UNITEC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will spur economic development and job opportunities in Honduras’ textile sector through a new program that launched Feb. 15. 

The launch ceremony for Hilando Oportunidades brought together not only leadership across all participating institutions, but also key government officials including the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Honduras Laura Dogu. The new program will provide training and certification in all areas of textile manufacturing for young adults in the country’s northern region of Cortes.

It marks the realization of a vision and dream years in the making, Wilson College Dean David Hinks said in his ceremony remarks. 

“Hilando Oportunidades is an authentic co-training model that will benefit both the U.S. and Honduran textile industries. In Honduras, these programs will power industry success and growth that will provide Honduran citizens with more fulfilling, better paying jobs,” he said. “In the United States, what we will improve over the next two years of Hilando Oportunidades is how we train operators and future managers and leaders, as well as the textile education programs we offer in North Carolina. That, in turn, will serve the entire U.S. textiles industry. Everyone wins.” 

In addition to setting students up for success in high paying jobs, Hilando Oportunidades seeks to drive the textile sector’s rapid growth in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, collectively known as the Northern Triangle. Demand for skilled textile employees in the area currently dwarfs the supply.

More than 1,500 Hondurans are expected to take advantage of this opportunity, which is open to anyone who is between the ages of 18 and 29, earns a yearly salary of less than the equivalent of $3,000, has at least a sixth grade education and who lives in the Cortes region of Honduras. Courses, which are offered at no cost to the student, will become available in March. 

“This initiative not only serves to empower the beneficiaries but also serves to shine light on the importance of technical education for the sustainability and development of the textile industry in our region,” Rosalpina Rodriguez, president and director of UNITEC, said following the launch event. 

A Phased, Hands-on Education 

Hilando Oportunidades’ innovative education model leverages the expertise of a number of well regarded institutions and industry partners to create the first technical textiles training program in Honduras. Wilson College, in partnership with Gaston College, has trained UNITEC trainers in yarn spinning, building on UNITEC’s history of providing high-quality technical and engineering education, and creating the foundation for the training programs to be led in Honduras by these trainers. 

The certification process itself consists of three stages, moving from foundational knowledge and theory to hands-on experience with industry technology. Students will earn a new badge as they complete each of the following stages: 

  1. Explora (Explore) Hilando
    In this stage, students will use an app called “Herald” to learn basic vocabulary and methodology to reinforce the benefits of the machinery. The application was created by Shimmy, a technology business for education that utilizes their digital capabilities based on games to inspire more people to find employment in textile fabrication. 
  2. Aprende (Learn) Hilando
    Here, instruction will pivot to learning about technological aspects about the textile industry such as fiber, textile and spinning fundamentals. In this stage, and in alliance with the textile industry in San Pedro Sula, the students will be enrolled in a hybrid program, with theory being applied in person in UNITEC’s labs. 
  3. Aplica (Apply) Hilando
    The last stage of the project is made up of 100% hands-on work where students will have the opportunity to interact directly with the machines throughout each step of the production process. 

The Hilando Oportunidades team launched a pilot training program in February with Parkdale Mills’s Honduras operations to train 50 new employees through Aprende Hilando and Aplica Hilando to test the operations and curricula before the full public launch. 

“We are incredibly grateful for the partnership with Parkdale Mills, which allowed our trainers and staff to experience the training environment in Honduras first-hand and receive valuable feedback on Hilando’s programs from the trainees and Parkdale leadership. This innovative model, leveraging modern pedagogical tools like simulations and gamification, has the power to engage trainees with a broad range of educational and technical backgrounds, expanding the benefits of this training to those who are in most need of skills to attain well-paying jobs in the growing textile industry,” Melissa Sharp, associate director of Wilson College’s Zeis Textiles Extension and chief of party of the Hilando Oportunidades project, said of the pilot program. “We are excited to move to the next phase of Hilando Oportunidades efforts on March 1.”

Melissa Sharp (left) speaks at the launch event for Hilando Oportunidades.

Ready to get involved? 

Prospective students and other members of the textile industry interested in this program should visit the Hilando Oportunidades Facebook and Instagram pages to receive the latest information and access the signup forms launching March 1.