The new year is the perfect time to embrace change, and if giving up treats and committing to a regular workout just won’t cut it, perhaps career development is the challenge you’re looking for.
If this is the case, the Institute of Export and International Trade’s (IOE&IT) new training programme, Level 3: International Freight Forwarding Specialist Apprenticeship, could be the answer.
Provided through IOE&IT’s apprenticeship delivery arm, IOEx Ltd, and available for those already working within the industry or taking on their first freight forwarding role, the apprenticeship will launch this year after months of expert input to design the programme.
Consisting of up to 18 months of practical teaching, followed by robust assessment, the apprenticeship offers pathways for ocean, road and air freight, with focused modules for each area. Apprentices will select one to pursue based on their existing role.
Within each pathway, core modules include customs regulations and environmental considerations, as well as cost considerations and managing stakeholder relationships.
This forms a programme that provides the skills needed to succeed in a freight forwarding role, while also instilling knowledge of business fundamentals.
This was one of the greatest appeals of the industry to IOE&IT trade and customs specialist Matt Vick, who began his career in a freight forwarding company.
Describing his first role as one of the most “varied and comprehensive introductions to several key aspects of running a business” he said that freight forwarding offered the chance to gain hands-on experience quickly.
“You can play the role of an account manager with sole responsibility for a client, learn how to build and maintain professional relationships, understand the business well enough to recommend new services and solutions and even visit them on gain an operational understanding.”
Not just school leavers
While an excellent option for school leavers, IOE&IT apprenticeship manager John Khan, is quick to point out that freight forwarding is also a perfect development path for workers already established in a relevant role.
He notes that there’s often a misconception that apprenticeships are only for teenagers. However, for experienced candidates of any age, “as long as they're employed in a relevant role with scope to develop new knowledge, an apprenticeship could be a suitable option”.
While other educational organisations currently offer the programme, Khan says that IOEx is well-placed to deliver training given the high level of in-house expertise in IOE&IT’s academy of trade specialists.
“Sector specialists with extensive knowledge of the freight forwarding industry and an extensive background can utilise their experiences and sharing their knowledge.
“It’s more valuable because it’s been gained and gathered from their experience in the sector, and importantly, it’s coupled with apprenticeship delivery expertise.”
Part of the strength of the programme’s delivery is the greater number of contact hours IOEx will be able to offer to supplement apprentice’s in-person training.
Another asset is the range of bespoke content created for the programme. While the key skills and competencies are derived from the ‘international freight forwarding standard’, which outlines what apprentices must know in order to complete the qualification, providing organisations are free to shape the learning design.
IOE&IT apprenticeship training delivery coach Jim Allsop, whose experience combines logistics and educational expertise within the military, is excited to begin coaching later this month.
With a background in transporting personnel and equipment in support of defence and facilitating the urgent movement of freight to support the UK’s global humanitarian and disaster relief endeavours, in addition to acting as a training analyst for both the Air Force and Navy, apprentices are in good hands.
He describes a range of new content, including a tailored study guide, incorporating the requisite knowledge from the standard, supplemented with newly written presentations, video explainers and practical activities simulating tasks and problems apprentices will encounter in their roles.
“We’ve taken an adaptive learning approach which combines different styles of teaching to best accommodate the many different types of learners out there.
“We’ve also created a ‘skills scan’ to assess where learners are at before they start the programme, that way if they already have a good level of knowledge in one area, we avoid duplication.”
The result is an individualised programme every bit as varied and flexible as the apprenticeship pathway itself.
‘Vast and varied’
This extends to the career area itself. Asked why the freight forwarding is worth committing to and pursuing in more depth, Vick described it as an industry “that can facilitate and connect most other industries around the world”, creating endless opportunities to learn about other sectors.
“No two shipments are the same: one day you will be arranging shipments of food for a supermarket, and the next a consignment of loft insulation for a construction supplier.”
His first role was a constant source of fascination for somebody who always enjoyed politics, history and culture, with variation etched into the role’s geographical reach, as well as the products moved.
“You’ll learn how different cultures engage in business, how a Chinese partner approaches a meeting compared to a Spanish representative, or how political arrangements have shaped customs rules and regulations across the globe.
“If you wish to build a greater appreciation for how vast and varied the world around us is, freight forwarding is a great avenue to see this bigger picture.”
To find out more about IOE&IT’s freight forwarding apprenticeship, click here. Places are still available for the end of January.