Costa Rica is something of an oasis in Central America. Free of the widespread gang violence and other dangers seen in other Central American countries, Costa Rica enjoys an excellent education and health-care system; high literacy rates; and beautiful, one-of-a-kind, protected wildlife and nature. Costa Rica also has a legitimate democratic political system and society. The citizens of this country are proud of their citizenship, and excited about their futures.
The country has a population of more than 4.7 million. Spanish is the main language of the people, which needs to be considered when conducting training. Although business professionals in Costa Rica may have some understanding of English, you need to remember that English is a second language for most Costa Ricans.
Costa Rica is a solid supporter of business. One of the most famous business schools in Central America is located in Costa Rica: INCAE was founded by Harvard University to provide cutting-edge business education to business leaders in Central America. The Costa Rican government provides financial incentives for multinational corporations to do business in Costa Rica. As a result of this pro-business environment, global corporations have built manufacturing plants in this country. High-tech, consumer goods, and pharmaceutical firms are represented and have grown thriving exportdriven organizations in Costa Rica.
WHERE DOES TRAINING FIT?
Costa Rica needs an educated, well-trained workforce to attract global businesses to build organizations in this country. These businesses will create much-needed, high-quality jobs for Costa Ricans. The Costa Rican government believes in this export-driven business model. These higherskilled jobs will allow the population to produce finished products for export. But this upgrading of skills requires specialized education and training.
Customer service, sales, teambuilding, and management training programs are in high demand. Time management programs are also popular. Since many employees do not speak English, English as a foreign language (EFL) training will be needed, as well.
Training typically is held off site at resorts, and in hotels in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Training costs are reasonable. If certain materials are unavailable, they can be easily obtained and shipped from the U.S.
- Keep in mind that you will be expected to lecture extensively. The thought is that you are the expert, and your ideas should be heard. Minimize or even eliminate small group work or “buzz groups.”
- Recognize that participants will expect trainercentered communication. That means you may need to adjust your training style as what works for you in America may not work in Costa Rica.
- Speak clearly and avoid idioms and slang. Your trainees may not have the English language ability you think they do. Using handouts and PowerPoint will help both learning and retention. Frequent checks to see if students are following your lecture can be helpful, as well.
- Remember that punctuality is expected and respected in Costa Rica. Do as you say in terms of start times, breaks, and end times for your program.
- Address your students by their last names, as formality is expected in Costa Rica.
- Do not single out individual participants. Praise the class as a group.
Costa Rica has a great location (it is only a short plane ride from several major cities in the U.S.), a pro-business government that believes in training, and a highly literate population that is eager to produce high-quality products. It is a country with a solid democratic political system that believes in equality for its citizens. As such, Costa Rica can provide your organization with an excellent business opportunity.
Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success. For more information, visit www.globaltrainingsystems.com.