IOE Foundation – the new charity raising awareness of trade to thousands of young people

Tue 5 Sept 2023
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
IOE News

“We think we’ve probably reached the best part of 100,000 young people who, as a result of what we’re doing, have now at least heard about the opportunities in exporting,” says Marcel Landau, reflecting on the first year of the IOE Foundation, a new charity that he chairs.

The motivation behind this work is Landau’s deep appreciation for the career that global trade has provided him. He says he “never really got on” with school but when he was offered a job at a business that traded internationally, he was able to realise the value of the skills he had learnt from his education and how to apply them on a daily basis.

“I had the opportunity to use my language skills, to see the world and I was interested in selling anyway, so the role ticked all the boxes,” he says.

“Once I started in the business, the penny began to drop. I realised, for instance, that I needed to know maths, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to work out how many boxes went on a palette or what would go into the hold of a ship.

“I needed to know geography because we were sending goods to Berlin, Accra or Auckland. I also needed to know a bit about the cultures of these countries and I certainly needed to utilise my language skills.

“What we’ve tried to do with the IOE Foundation is to help young people to realise that working in international trade is an opportunity to utilise all these things you’ve learnt at school in a way that is relevant and real. This is what’s driven us forward.”

What is the IOE Foundation?

Established in July 2022, the IOE Foundation exists completely separately from the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), for which Landau also serves as a vice-chair.

Landau aside, no other IOE&IT trustees work on the Foundation and Landau’s board has complete independence in its decision-making.

Its remit is also distinct, focussing as it does on helping 16-25 year-olds to discover trade as a career option and to gain access to the training and education needed to successfully enter the industry.

“The most important thing is trying to get school leavers and people in the early 20s to understand that the future of the country is absolutely dependent on us trading internationally,” Landau says.

Early achievements

Over the last year, the Foundation has been reaching out to other charities involved in youth education to look at ways of raising awareness about trade in the 16-25 age group. The response has been very positive.

“The Foundation seems to have a resonance with lots of different people,” says Landau. “We’re thrilled that we’ve yet to be turned down by anyone who we’ve approached.”

One of these organisations was Young Enterprise – a UK-wide charity that specialises in helping young people “learn the vital skills and enterprising mindset needed to earn and look after their money and make a positive contribution to their community,” according to its website.

One of the ways it achieves this is by encouraging young people, as part of their studies, to practically apply their learnings by effectively setting up their own small enterprises. The Foundation is supporting these projects at both the university and sixth form level by giving awards for the enterprises with the best approaches to exporting.

“We did a trial in the last school year where we took part in the judging of the students’ finals and gave an award for what was called ‘export mindfulness’ as part of this,” says Landau.

“Throughout the year, we were working together with universities, tutors and schools to help build an awareness, from the very beginning, that any business idea needs to be exportable from day one,” he said.

Landau hopes that the success of these projects can be rolled out in all parts of the UK and globally, with organisations like Young Enterprise and others.

Education, education, education

The Foundation, nevertheless, also works in partnership with IOE&IT to support young people to access the training and qualifications that the latter provides.

Landau himself is a former IOE&IT student and says that the qualifications he took were fundamental to his learning how to work in the industry. He says the Foundation is aiming to improve young people’s access to trade as a career by raising awareness of the IOE&IT’s support.

“We want younger generations to know that institutes like IOE&IT are are out there, rather than having to research them themselves.

“We want people, from the very beginning of their trade careers, to know about the membership, education and training that’s available from IOE&IT.”

Part of this work involves funding young people – including winners of the awards IOE Foundation is sponsoring – to access IOE&IT support.

The Foundation will also be backing the education programmes delivered by IOE&IT by sponsoring a new High Achievement Award at this year’s Graduation Ceremony. This new award will go to 14 people who “will have achieved distinctions in across all their exams,” Landau says.

Raising awareness

IOE&IT also features the IOE Foundation across its channels and platforms, including at events such as the recent MemberCon23 and the upcoming Import-Export Show.

Samantha Ingrey, an IOE&IT employee who has taken on a voluntary role supporting Landau with the establishment and promotion of the Foundation, says work is ongoing to establish the new charity’s distinct brand identity.

“I’ve recently finished working with an external designer on new artwork for banners which will be showcased at IOE&IT’s annual general meeting next month,” she says.

“We’ve had a new logo for the Foundation designed as well, and we also have our own social media pages – that’s Twitter and LinkedIn at the moment.

“We’re trying to generate as much profile as possible and I’m working with IOE&IT marketing team on how we can best do this. We also have an eye on getting our own website running which will be separate to IOE&IT’s.”

Because of this work, the charity has already reached around 100,000 young people in its first year, Landau says. With his and Ingrey’s ongoing dedication, it’s sure to reach many more.