LaMP Flights: Improving Central Americans’ Access to Job Opportunities within the Cruise Industry 

AUTHORS: MELISSA SAUCEDO, JASON WENDLE

FAVORITE MESSAGE: 

Guatemalan workers have a strong value proposition. Cruise guests want to see more workers that represent the countries they are visiting on their vacation to have a more genuine experience.  
 

MAIN TAKEAWAY: 

Creating a pipeline of qualified and trained job seekers from Guatemala can help respond to the labor shortages of the cruise industry and create more job opportunities for workers. The cruise industry operates on a global level and can offer competitive wages, professional growth, and an opportunity for workers to see the world. However, for Guatemala to unlock this opportunity, workers need better access to English language and hospitality skills trainings, including access to funding as well as enough time to invest in these trainings, and a formalized recruitment industry in this sector that can respond quickly to the growing needs of the cruises.  

LaMP TEAM REFLECTION: 

The LaMP team kicked-off a series of scoping trips to dive deeper into opportunities for intra-regional labor mobility in Ibero-America. First, the team traveled to Guatemala to get a better understanding of the worker supply side. We met with stakeholders in Guatemala to better understand the potential impact of increasing job opportunities in the cruise industry for Guatemalan workers. Specifically, we discussed the matter with the government, non-profit organizations, training institutions, and recruiters, who could possibly support building of responsible recruitment industry within the sector, meeting the needs of the cruises while expanding the pool of circular employment opportunities for Guatemalans. During these meetings LaMP discussed concrete concerns and strategies to better prepare jobseekers for the industry, improve institutional collaboration, and reduce the risk of exploitation for workers who wish to work at sea. 

The following week, we participated in the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Annual Conference in the Dominican Republic to get more insights into the employers’ perspective and needs. At the conference, we discussed employment needs in the industry, especially following the halt during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the opening ceremony speakers emphasized that hiring more workers from the Latin American region  is one of the industry’s key priorities. The LaMP team engaged with cruise executives and delegates from the region to better understand the cruise lines recruitment challenges and how to harness opportunities specifically in Central America. To successfully increase hiring in Central America for cruises, countries need to create a qualified pool of candidates that is trained, ready to live at sea and speaks English. It is critical to establish a reliable and responsible recruitment market that can respond to the industry’s needs, match workers to jobs and prevent exploitation. Governments need to coordinate closely with cruises to ensure workers are trained according to their needs. And cruises need to coordinate closely with governments to ensure that a responsive recruitment market is set in place.   

The LaMP team now takes this knowledge to start designing a pilot, helping incentivize jobseekers to invest in trainings which can ultimately result in a job offer in the cruise industry, while also channeling the cruise lines’ interest to hire from Guatemala and Central America more broadly. The team is now working with cruises, recruiters, training institutions and other stakeholders that expressed interest in continued collaboration.

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