MCALLEN, Texas – South Texas College President Ricardo J. Solis says the traditional ways of learning in higher education are no longer relevant to the workplace.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony held to celebrate a new industry-recognized customs specialist course, Solis said four-year degree programs are no longer the best way to meet the needs of industry. Rather, he said, the trade school approach and industry-recognized certificates are more becoming more important. 

“As I mentioned earlier, higher education is evolving. I alluded to… it is broken. And we have to change it to more relevancy,” Solis said.

Solis said revamping the way higher education is provided was already underway before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now, he said, the need to change is even more obvious.

“We definitely know that we have to get more precise in bringing opportunities to not only the high school students but even the present adults, your 30- to 50- to 60-year olds that need that change and need that connectivity to industry.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate a partnership between STC, the National Educational Institute at the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America  and the Mid-Valley Customs Brokers Association. The partnership will see a new course being offered at STC’s technology campus in south McAllen – an industry-recognized course to train students for a career in customs brokerage.

Solis said he knows from personal experience that industry-recognized certificates are the way to go. 

“Customs specialist? This definitely resonates to me. I remember back in 1985 when I wasted three years going to a top graduate school in California,” Solis said.

“When I finished and started working at the Port of Brownsville I realized how much I did not know.”

Solis said that once in the workforce he took a six-month course to learn more about the customs industry. He said he learned more about transportation, logistics, the identification of products, the way trade is conducted in different countries, and rules of origin by going on such a course. 

“The traditional route is not the way to go. We have better, more relevant avenues and models,” he said.


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