A vacation paradise for many North Americans, the Dominican Republic is famous for its sandy beaches, clear blue water, and delicious food and drink. It is easy to be enchanted by the welcoming and friendly nature of the Dominican people. Well known for its music and the relaxed nature of its culture, the Dominican Republic is a place tourists come to rest and recharge. The growing tourist industry and plentiful hotels and resorts are a testament to the positive impact that vacationing in the Dominican Republic has had on its many visitors.
The population of the Dominican Republic is approximately 10.5 million; Santo Domingo is the capital of this country with a population of more than 3 million inhabitants. The second largest city is Santiago with a population of 700,000-plus residents.
Is there a place for training in the Dominican Republic? The answer is a qualified, “Yes”—the potential for growth opportunities and risks will have an impact on an organization’s decision to invest here.
The Dominican Republic is a poor country. Its educational system is not strong, and all training will need to be conducted in Spanish. Basic services such as electricity, potable water, and trash removal are currently unreliable. Because the incomes and standards of living here are low, there may not be a domestic market for your organization’s goods and services. Almost all exports from the Dominican Republic are agricultural products such as sugar, cotton, coffee, fruits and vegetables, minerals, and dairy products. Few finished goods are manufactured here, which limits exporting opportunities.
Although the Dominican government has attempted to develop technology centers where its citizens can learn how to produce finished products for export, this upgrading of skills requires specialized education and training. The current educational system does not support this campaign.
In addition, many multinational companies have been reticent to invest in the Dominican Republic because of rampant corruption, high costs of doing business here, and limited business resources. Lastly, business law is still evolving, which increases the risks for global companies doing business here.
That said, the Dominican Republic is only a few hours from the U.S. It has become a center of tourism in the Caribbean. Its population is eager to learn and be trained. For many, the opportunity to work for an American company is a dream come true.
Training is accepted as a positive intervention in this country. Dominicans look at training as a way to get ahead and improve their skills. Training typically is made available in the larger cities, especially in Santo Domingo. Hotels are the preferred venue. Technical, customer service, and leadership training programs are needed. Because the majority of Dominican employees do not speak English, English as a foreign language training (EFL) is in great demand.
Trainers are respected here. Although it is critical for the trainer to present as a knowledgeable expert, he or she will not be expected to lecture. Small group discussions, case studies, and skills practices are well received. After these activities, a whole group debriefing is appreciated. Although Dominicans are group oriented, recognizing top performers is expected. Participants will not feel singled out. However, constructive feedback should be conducted individually, and ideally in private, during breaks, etc.
The Dominican Republic is a country where formality is expected. Trainers are expected to wear a business suit; the trainer does not elicit confidence by dressing down. Trainers should address participants by their last names unless asked to do differently.
In terms of time, punctuality may not be as valued as expected. Trainers should develop ground rules regarding how they will treat time in their training program and let participants know their expectations regarding time. Participants will return from class breaks and lunch as asked, but trainers should be prepared to “track and adjust” as needed.
Ultimately, all business involves risk. Once your organization determines its risk profile, you may find that the Dominican Republic can play a part in its future.
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.