Bendix launching vocational training program in Mexico

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, LLC, will soon begin a pilot program educating potential workers in the northern Mexico city of Ciudad Acuña.

Bendix has operated a manufacturing facility in the city since 1988.

In the one-year pilot program, which is scheduled to begin in September, Bendix will provide 12 courses on light manufacturing techniques to 240 men and women ages 18-25 who are not currently employed or enrolled in school.

The 180-hour technical course, in which 12 groups of 20 students will study in one- or two-month-long sessions, will take place at the Bendix Acuña campus. Students will engage in classroom training four days per week and receive practical hands-on experience one day each week, the company says.

The program’s goal is to assist in the personal development of each student, and help them become job-ready for the manufacturing workforce – including at Bendix, which will have the choice of hiring up to 80 percent of the course’s graduates.

Funding for the pilot program is provided by Knorr-Bremse Global Care, which is contributing $150,000. Knorr-Bremse Global Care is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 by the Knorr-Bremse Group, of which Bendix is a member. The organization was founded to give people in need – through no fault of their own – a chance to lead more independent lives.

To operate the vocational program, Bendix is partnering with the Instituto de Capacitación para el Trabajo del Estado de Coahuila (ICATEC), a local training institute with deep community connections that is helping to design the course and recruit students.

Project coordinators for Bendix are Maria Gutierrez, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability, and Carlos Hungria, chief operating officer.

“We believe deeply in doing everything we can to support our home communities – it’s part of who we are at Bendix. In Acuña, we want to make a positive difference in the lives of this group of young men and women,” Hungria says.

“Knorr-Bremse Global Care and the Knorr-Bremse Group are making this training possible through their encouragement and generous funding. With ICATEC’s help, we have made it our mission to create a meaningful program that students embrace – and provides a set of skills they can draw on for their entire working life.”

Close to the Texas border, Acuña is home to many foreign assembly plants and factories. The industrial sector accounts for 60-70 percent of economic activity, the company says. The average education of the workforce, however, is below industrial standards.

“Our program focus became the young people who aren’t working or in school. These young adults are at high risk of disengagement from both education and the labor market. Since they struggle in finding long-term employment, they can become more highly susceptible to influences and activities that may have a negative impact on the community,” Gutierrez says.

“The issue at hand becomes how can we help resolve that social need and also help with education? How can we partner with the private sector to identify gaps that could be filled by newly trained youth? What type of short-term intervention would equip the unemployed youth with the skills needed to meet real workforce opportunities?”

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