One of Haiti’s greatest assets is its people. The country’s population of over 10 million is very young, with approximately 65% percent under the age of 30. With a reputation for being energetic, flexible, hard-working, and trainable, this multilingual labor force can be rapidly mobilized to meet the demands of high-growth sectors, such as BPO, tourism, apparel manufacturing, agribusiness, and electronics manufacturing. The demand for jobs and desire for work is strong. There is a stable labor force, with factory managers reporting low levels of absenteeism (2 percent) and turnover (between 4 to 6 percent per year). Low absenteeism is a factor helping to realize output targets and low turnover rates are an incentive to invest in workers’ training programs.
By the Constitution of 1987, the State guarantees Haitians the right to free and adequate primary education. However, Haiti’s education system is currently dominated by private schools, most of which are operated as for-profit organizations.
After the pre-school level, students have nine years of basic education and receive a Brevet Diploma. Secondary education consists of four years of schooling, followed by the completion of the Baccalauréat. After their basic education, students have the option to follow a professional or vocational training. Some of the most recognized universities in Haiti are Université d’Etat d’Haiti, École Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haiti, Université Notre Dame d’Haiti, and Université Quisqueya.
Dedication to Improvement
The government is currently engaged in a multi-year process to ensure there is a publicly-financed, tuition-free, well-managed education system open to all children that provides quality educational services as well as social services. The plan covers the entire education system, from early childhood development to higher education, and includes public and non-public schools. Specific targets include providing free, universal education from grade 1 through 6 by the end of 2015, and from grades 1 through 9 by 2021.
Evidence of success is already apparent: In 2014, 1.4 million or 88 percent of children aged 6 to 12 benefited from free education, a figure that is up from 44 percent in 2006.
Of particular interest to investors, the plan also calls for the creation of an integrated management system of the sector with strong private sector participation, and an increase in technical and vocational education and training programs to meet labor market demands.
To further improve the skills of the workforce in various sectors, both the public and private sectors are investing in vocational skills training.
Relevant for the textile and apparel industry, for example, KOICA, the Korean International Cooperation Agency, announced plans in 2014 to invest US$ 3.5 million in a garment training center to be built in the Caracol Industrial Park. The center will train unskilled workers to meet the workforce demands of the garment industry and help ensure the availability of adequately trained human resources. Similarly, with the support of the textile and apparel company, SAE-A, 20 young Haitian professionals from the area surrounding the Caracol Investment Park completed a six-month course in management training in Nicaragua.
In the tourism sector, the national École Hôtelière d’Haiti (The Haiti Hospitality School), which was established in 1954, trains young men and women for careers in the hospitality industry. With tourism being one of the priority sectors, the Ministry of Tourism is expanding its efforts on vocational training. In 2013, the Institut National de Formation en Hôtellerie et Tourisme (TheNational Hotel and Tourism Training Institute -INFORHT) in the south opened its doors and, in 2014, had 200 students.