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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact Mike Greife
WARRENSBURG, MO (Feb. 5, 2010) – Expanding educational opportunities in Panama was the topic of discussion between representatives of Missouri higher education institutions, area state legislators and a consultant for higher education in Panama during a meeting recently hosted by UCM.
Robert Stein, Missouri commissioner for higher education, introduced Nanette Svenson, a consultant with the United Nations Development Program. Svenson explained the needs for technical and higher education programs in Panama that can be met by Missouri institutions.
State Senator David Pearce of the 31st District and State Representative Denny Hoskins of the 121st District, both of Warrensburg, also met with the group, which included representatives of UCM, Metropolitan Community Colleges in Kansas City, and the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Svenson outlined the quickly expanding need for an educated work force in Panama, which is experiencing economic and social growth. However, with a limited number of higher education institutions available in the country, demand for specific technology training and higher education exceeds available resources.
“The growing business community does not have the specifically trained and educated work force needed to service the growing level of what is becoming an international economy,” Svenson said. “We now find ourselves seeking ways of bolstering the work force with very specific areas of expertise.” She added that non-degreed, certified training, as well as degree programs, can be provided through exchange programs from Missouri schools, in addition to current exchange programs that bring Panamanian students to the United States to study.
“We need trained personnel in technical services,” she said. “A good example is the recent growth of Panama as a location for call centers. We need personnel trained in advanced technology to support that growth. We also can use training in medical records and health services, and the recent growth of tourism in Panama requires additional trained personnel in technical services and public safety and law enforcement.” She said there also is a quickly growing need for trained medical personnel, as well as marketing and management expertise to support the growing business base.
Stein said a task force of 27 people representing 10 Missouri institutions of higher education traveled to Panama in November to explore opportunities for education relationships.
“We not only explored opportunities for student exchanges and new academic programs for students, but also faculty research opportunities that will benefit both Panama and Missouri,” Stein said. “We have a historic relationship with Panama, with many strong programs in place. Here today we have a four-year research institution, a four-year regional university and a community college, each with specific programs that can be tailored to the needs of Panama.”
Pearce and Hoskins pledged to support statewide efforts at encouraging exchange programs including a proposed joint legislative resolution supporting International Education Day in Missouri Feb. 24. Pearce currently chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, and Hoskins serves on the House Higher Education Policy Committee and the House Budget Committee.