Focus On Jamaica

Jamaicans enjoy being active learners. “Ice-breakers” and training games are expected.

Jamaica is a vacation paradise. This Caribbean island is known for Negril, Ocho Rios, and many other vacation destinations. These resorts symbolize rest, relaxation, delicious food and drink, and beautiful beaches. Jamaica also is famous for its music, especially the sounds of reggae, which was popularized globally by Jamaican musician Bob Marley.

The population of Jamaica is approximately 3 million. English is the official language of this country, and the language of business. The United States is Jamaica’s largest trading partner, and many Jamaicans have family and friends who live or have lived in the United States.

Tourism is the largest industry in the country, but agriculture and fishing are also main sources of employment and export. Bauxite, a major component in the manufacture of aluminum, is readily available there. Jamaica participates in a number of trade agreements, especially with the U.S. Because of the English-speaking workforce, many global organizations operate call centers in this country.

Education is important to Jamaicans. Parents in this land want their children to be better educated, and live in better economic circumstances then they do. Although poverty does exist here, this positive mindset has contributed to a fairly high literacy rate of 90 percent. Companies can expect this rate to rise in the future.


It is clear to Jamaican leadership that training is critical to the success of the country. In the past, the Jamaican business model was to export agricultural products and minerals, and to import finished goods such as machinery and computers. The government realizes it needs to reverse this course and instead be the exporter of finished goods in order to improve the economy and create higher-paying skilled employment.

Both Jamaican employers and employees value training. Jamaican employees view training as a path to better job opportunities. Training programs in this country are short and focused. Two- to three-day programs that run half the workday are the norm. The most requested topics are customer service, technical, sales and marketing, and management and supervisory training. Training typically is held at the work location, in a room dedicated to training. Most training occurs in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica.

Trainers are expected to dress formally, in a suit, and to initially address participants by their last names. Trainers should be aware of the “small talk” they use when interacting with trainees. They should avoid discussing religion, politics, and family life.

Although English is the official language, trainers will need to watch their vocabulary and rate of speed when presenting information. Extensive use of visuals can greatly increase comprehension and retention of material. North American trainers will be able to present content with minimal changes.

Jamaicans enjoy being active learners. “Icebreakers” and training games are expected. Small group discussions during the program will be received favorably. Jamaica is an individualistic culture. Participants will enjoy “standing out” during the program.

The structure of training is key. Trainers should start the day with a clear agenda, cover the points mentioned, and summarize what was learned at the end of the program.


Over the years of writing this column, I often have wondered how trainers could be rewarded for helping their organization meet and exceed business goals. Many Fortune 500 companies have “President’s Clubs” to reward high-achieving sales and marketing professionals in their organization who meet specific business targets. These incentive trips generate great loyalty and motivation from these employees, and help create a winning culture and mindset among all employees.

Perhaps something similar could be done for trainers who conduct Kirkpatrick Level 4 evaluations and document the money saved and/or generated by the Training unit. Such trainers could earn President’s Club recognition and participate in a strategic planning event or a train-the-trainer program in Jamaica.

Could this help motivate all trainers in the Training unit? Would this elevate and make visible the importance of training to the entire organization? E-mail me at and tell me what you think.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success. For more information, visit