Focus on El Salvador
El Salvador has a population of more than 6.1 million, and Spanish is the main language of its people.
It has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. This is a country with more than 100 lakes, many volcanoes, lush green valleys, and diverse wildlife and nature. More than 150 orchids and close to 400 different types of birds have been identified. The paradox is that this country has been the victim of severe, destructive weather conditions. In fact, the area surrounding the capital city of San Salvador has experienced more than 10 earthquakes. These conditions have caused long-lasting damage to the land and serious hardships and loss of life for many citizens throughout this beautiful country.
El Salvador’s citizens also have experienced violence, war, and political instability on an-all-too-regular basis. The country experienced a civil war that lasted for more than a decade before ending in 1992. Currently, gang violence in this country has received worldwide attention.
The educational system in El Salvador is not strong, which has resulted in a lowered literacy rate. In addition, half the population lives outside the cities, where it is typical to leave school at an early age to work. As a result, the population typically cannot afford many products and services. In addition, because of the low educational levels, much of the workforce is not well equipped to produce and manufacture higher-order products such as computers and machinery for export.
Currently, America is a major trading partner with El Salvador, and has had a trade surplus with the country for many years. The U.S. exports finished goods such as machinery, and El Salvador exports agricultural products such as coffee to America. El Salvador has adopted the U.S. dollar as its currency, which tightly connects our two economies.
A key driver for the trading that occurs between the two countries is the U.S.-Central American- Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which covers free trade issues and allows a fluid trade relationship between the U.S. and El Salvador. El Salvador also operates a number of Manufacturing Free Trade Zones, which helps facilitate free trade between countries wishing to do business with El Salvador. A great benefit is that the two countries are easily accessible to each other by multiple modes of transportation. Currently, more than 300 American firms are doing business in El Salvador.
El Salvador needs an educated, well-trained workforce to attract global businesses to build organizations in this country. These higher skilled jobs will allow its population to produce finished products for export. This upgrading of skills requires specialized education and training. Management, supervision, technical training, and English as a Foreign Language programs are all needed.
Almost all training is held in San Salvador. Training typically is held onsite in company training rooms.
- Be prepared to lecture extensively. El Salvador ans believe the trainer is the expert, and his or her ideas should be heard.
- Note that most training programs will need to be conducted in Spanish. This will add complexity to how content will be received and also will affect the pacing of the program. Coordinating with an interpreter prior to the program is crucial to its success.
- Speak clearly and avoid idioms and slang when training in English. English is not widely spoken in El Salvador, which can slow training and necessitate redesigns of organizational knowledge transfer. Using handouts and PowerPoint can help trainees learn and retain the material.
- During instructional design, try to eliminate small group work. Participants expect trainer-centered communication.
- Do not single out participants. Praise the class as a group.
- Address students by their last names, as formality is expected in El Salvador.
- Keep in mind that punctuality in El Salvador is much more fluid than in America. Impress upon learners the importance of keeping up with start times, breaks, and end times so they can maximize their success.
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.