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Trinidad and Tobago continues to strengthen its reputation as the nearshore destination for offering services to the wider Caribbean and gateway to Central American market.

Foreign companies considering setting up in the Caribbean must spend time investigating their options for building their first local leadership team and human resource support in order to be successful at their market opening. Increasingly, these companies are deciding to outsource their human resource needs to local companies.

Trinidad and Tobago’s surge in a higher educated workforce is a result of the country’s open access to tertiary education. This includes distance learning and efforts to reduce barriers to access, for example, to the economically disadvantaged and mature students. The country not only focuses on areas such as accounting, finance and law but has broadened the skills set to electronics, information technology, construction and administration, just to name a few. The availability of higher education and technological advancements within the country allow companies to expand operations and, often, they end up having larger operations outside of their national home. Of course, it should be noted that a competitive compensation package is key to attracting specialised talent.

Cross border collaboration through technology is key when companies seek to recruit professionals and to identify business hubs with attractive talent. The introduction of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) skill certificate provides greater access to the quality of the talent pool available, as the search for the best candidates is extended to the Caribbean region.

The pipeline of qualified English-speaking candidates is possible through social media, building business relationships and collaboration with educational institutions. Networking plays a significant factor in successfully hiring the best. Apart from postgraduate and undergraduate degrees, T&T’s educational institutions collaborate and network with companies to tailor programmes specific to the needs of their business. This contributes to a more productive and engaged workforce. Most of our institutions prepare students for the corporate world through apprenticeships and internships, which allows for better and easier integration into an organisation.

The increase in cross border collaboration has also spiked the need to bridge the gaps with respect to cultural differences – both corporate and societal culture. Human Resource professionals in Trinidad and Tobago continue to share with business leaders how cultural diversity can contribute to the success of the company setting up in the country. Companies use it to their advantage by encouraging creativity and innovation, hence increasing productivity through the generation of ideas.

Expanding overseas is no easy task. Lack of contacts is the number one deterrent for an overseas business that wants to export services and set up in another country. Business owners recognise immediately the importance of hiring a local country manager to gain insight into doing business in Trinidad and Tobago and taking the time to strengthen local networks that can successfully contribute to, and advise on, the business’ development. A local hire understands the business lingo and communication to achieve a successful business transaction.

Global companies come into Trinidad and Tobago with the goal of identifying all resources required to begin operations on a single visit. Availability and accessibility to our Human Resources and through the use of technology allows us to source potential candidates, set up interviews and conduct assessments or provide information so that the single visit is a success. Some of the common questions by international companies are on local compliance, understanding onboarding practices and termination procedures, compensation packages and adapting their global handbooks in line with local laws and industry practices.

Global companies seek providers with established networks and resources to deliver the requested needs. More importantly, local human resource advisors are able to identify opportunities and any hindrances in the hiring process or setting up a local human resource function. Many companies working on short-term to medium-term projects in the Caribbean prefer to outsource human resource back office support instead of setting up a full office. It is a more cost effective and efficient way to get the projects rolling. Additionally, our local professionals are able to perform and carry out operations in compliance with labour laws, industrial relations and statutory laws relating to payroll.

Trinidad and Tobago is emerging as the business hub in the Caribbean and as a BPO. Ranked 42nd in the AT Kearney Global Services Location Index 2016 for Global Service Delivery, the twin island is strengthening its attractiveness as a destination for offshore services with strong financial services, a healthy business landscape and a skilled workforce.

Maintaining a local human resource advisor or outsourcing the human resource function locally gives overseas businesses the ability to deliver first class service in compliance with local laws, adapt their global policies appropriately, and be responsive to the local market’s needs.

Read full magazine on Who’s Who Business Trinidad and Tobago 2017