The UK Customs Academy, the online school for customs skills supported by HM Government, has reported a three-fold increase in bookings month-on-month in July.
There was a total of 328 courses booked in July, up from 89 in June, as the UKCA approaches its first anniversary.
The academy was set up in September 2019 at the behest of HMRC by the Institute of Export & International Trade and KGH Customs Services UK to prepare firms for new customs rules after the UK’s exit from the EU.
All UKCA content is delivered online through self-paced learning, through a bespoke learning management system.
Sam Pileggi, who as the IOE&IT’s commercial director is in charge of UKCA, said bookings in July came from traders – retailers in particular – as well as intermediaries.
“Under normal circumstances, we’d expect July to be quieter than other months of the year because of holidays,” she said. “However, this year is proving an exception as less people are going abroad on vacation while also realising they need to prepare for post-transition customs rules.”
HMRC’s announcement of a new £50m customs support fund for UK firms, a successor to the current grant scheme, in June helped build awareness of that firms can have their training funded by government.
“July’s bumper bookings were still drawing on previous grant funding but by unveiling the new increased fund, the government has let firms know that help on training is at hand but also that transition-end and new customs rules are approaching.”
Sustained levels of home working have also encouraged sign ups, Pileggi said. “We designed the learning system and schedule to be flexible for people juggling full-time jobs and also home life – in lockdown these qualities have
Firms wishing to apply for funded training need to first open a grant account with fund administrators PwC, followed by obtaining a quote for a course from the IOE&IT.
Once PwC approves a quote, companies pay for the desired course – from Level 2 through to Level 5 (Diploma level) – and on submission of an IOE&IT receipt to PwC, gain a refund from HMRC within 30 days.