Education Enabled: DIT doubles down on UK’s trading future with new education program

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox seeks to invest in the UK’s trading future by launching the International Trade Development Program. The 2 year program, designed to include work placements in 3 seperate UK-based teams as well as a 6 month stint at one of The Department of International Trade’s (DIT’s) 127 international offices, is intended to provide a truly rounded understanding of international trade.

As Brexit looms ever closer, ensuring that the next generation of trade professionals are well-versed and equipped for the challenges and opportunities of the future is increasingly more important. Recognizing this, DIT has opened the new program to people of all ages, as well as those who have no previous government experience or a degree, focusing selection instead on a passion and aptitude for trade. 

“I wanted to make it a wider opportunity, more meritocratic. Britain didn’t build its trading empire on A levels.” Mr. Fox says.

This education program will hopefully be a powerful step towards closing the UK’s widening trade skills gap. Trade Finance Global has identified three primary issues responsible for this gap: recruitment, retention, and knowledge dispersion. The International Trade Development Program will mitigate all three.

Recruitment

To address recruiting, the traditional recruitment process has been turned on its head for this new program to include much more than just an applicant’s qualifications “on paper”. By doing this, the new program will “enable youngsters who have never thought about it before and might not have aspired to university to consider a career in trade.” DIT, the government department responsible for trade deals with non-EU states, expects the majority of candidates to be school leavers, people switching careers or those looking to work in Government for the first time.

Retention

The program was also designed with retention in mind. Mr. Fox noted, “My vision is that anyone joining the scheme will be able to enjoy their whole career at DIT, building skills and experience across the department to eventually take on one of our highest-ranking and most prestigious roles as HM Trade Commissioners.”

Knowledge Dispersion

Knowledge dispersion stems from the very nature of the program, being one aimed at educating the next generation of international trade experts.

Education at TFG

Education is a key element for future development and the professionalization of the trade industry; the trade education gap will not be solved through this one initiative alone. Governments and firms around the world need to follow the lead set by the DIT and devote the time and resources necessary to develop future cohorts of international trade experts. Earlier this month, Trade Finance Global announced a new educational partnership with FCI Academy, to help students learn about trade and receivables finance and report on stories and developments within this space. This new partnership supplements TFG’s existing education initiative, the Accelerate Scholarship, where TFG hosts a grant that helps students to realize their full potential in a career in the trade.