U.S. Consul General Roger C. Rigaud and Canadian Consul General Sandra Shaddick today joined UNHCR’s Head of Sub-Office for northern Mexico and local business, educational and political leaders in La Laguna for a productive discussion on how integrating asylum seekers and refugees into the regional economy can strengthen U.S.-Mexico-Canada nearshoring initiatives.
Consuls General Rigaud and Shaddick chaired the meeting in the Torreon mayor’s office alongside Shant Dermegerditchian, Head of UNHCR’s Sub-Office for Northern Mexico. Also participating were Mayor Roman Cepeda of Torreon; Mayor Leticia Herrera of Gomez Palacio; Mayor Miguel A. Ramirez of Matamoros, Coahuila; Mayor Homero Martinez of Lerdo; Martin Atienzo, CONALEP Director General for Durango; Alfio Vega, CONALEP Director General for Coahuila; and several other representatives from UNHCR as well as the public and private sectors.
During the 90-minute meeting, participants learned about UNHCR’s programs and initiatives such as “Local Integration”, which can help asylum seekers and refugees obtain legal residency and employment in collaboration with local governments, civil society, the private sector, and the educational sector in Mexico. They also discussed the “Alliance for Inclusion,” which aims to inspire the private sector to include refugees in the national workforce.
The discussion also touched on how CONALEP can provide training for migrants who currently lack the skills needed by employers operating in the rapidly growing nearshoring sector. Employers in the region have noted a lack of high-skilled workers ready for employment opportunities connected to nearshoring investments.
“This is an opportunity to do something special,” Consul General Rigaud said. “We can positively influence the changes that are already taking place in the region and make La Laguna one of the most competitive markets for nearshoring. This will create new and better jobs for the region and enhance economic opportunity for all North America.”
Following the meeting, Consuls General Rigaud and Shaddick joined local business leaders for a panel discussion on education, nearshoring, and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, in front of an audience of students at CONALEP Gomez Palacio.