UK Export Skills Shortage Solved by New Apprenticeships from the IOE and IT

Fri 10 Aug 2018
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
IOE News

international trade apprenticeships

With March 2019 fast approaching and the challenges that Brexit poses becoming more apparent and daunting by the day, the need for businesses to gain the skills and knowledge needed to do international trade properly, in a compliant and cost-effective way, has never been greater. With many companies also looking to attain Authorised Economic Operator status as a way of maintaining their supply chain competitiveness following the UK’s exit from the EU, the requirement to have staff who are properly qualified in the processes and technicalities of trade has also become clear.

Businesses in the UK can now increase their skills and knowledge in international trade through approved apprenticeship qualifications provided by the Institute of Export & International Trade. In August the Institute announced three qualifications that can be offset against the apprenticeship levy - the ‘International Freight Forwarding Specialist Apprenticeship’, the ‘Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship’, and the Senior Leader Apprenticeship (an MSc in Supply Chain and Logistics).

The apprenticeship levy has been in effect since April 2017 allowing employers of all sizes to draw from the pot to fund approved apprenticeship qualifications. Companies with a payroll exceeding £3 million are required to pay into the levy and will receive 100% funding for most apprenticeships. Companies with a payroll below £3 million do not pay into the levy but can benefit from 90% funding against approved apprenticeships.

apprenticeships by the ioe

The apprenticeship qualifications available through the Institute can be taken alongside full-time work because of the Institute’s flexible programme which blends both online and offline teaching. Apprentices are able to work alongside experienced staff at their company and gain job-specific skills through their study, all while earning a wage (with holiday pay) and gaining a career-defining qualification.

The International Freight Forwarding Specialist Apprenticeship, which can be taken at Level 3 (the equivalent to an A Level), trains individuals in the work companies have to do to comply with all applicable customs, import and export laws and regulations. The apprentice will take one of three pathways in the qualification, reflecting the focus of the employer’s operations: air freight, ocean freight, and road freight. It takes 18 months to complete. Businesses who pay into the apprenticeship levy can put employees through this apprenticeship for free, with the cost for non-payers being £900; this is a significant reduction from the non-apprenticeship cost of £9,000.

The Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, which can be taken at Levels 4, 5 and 6 (with 6 being the equivalent of a Bachelors), is offered in collaboration with the University of Plymouth and provides apprentices with the skills to become successful leaders in international trade. This 4-year apprenticeship consists of the 2 year Foundation Degree in International Trade offered by the Institute, and is ideal for those looking to take on management roles in trade.

Businesses who pay into the apprenticeship levy can put employees through this apprenticeship for free; for non-payers it costs £1,500 over 2 years at Levels 4 and 5 and £1,200 at Level 6; this again a significant reduction from the non-apprenticeship costs of £15,000 and £12,000.

The Senior Leader Apprenticeship, which consists of an MSc in Supply Chain and Logistics (Level 7), has been developed in collaboration with the University of Warwick. It provides a thorough knowledge and understanding of the management and operational requirements necessary to trade successfully in international markets. It is only applicable for employers looking to put a cohort of 10 learners through it.

All study with the Institute is delivered through a digital platform with blended learning comprising:

  • Specialist Tutor for every module of learning;
  • Online learning campus with written learning materials, presentations, podcasts and virtual lectures;
  • Online learning library;
  • Regular webinars with tutorials.

A Great Solution to the UK’s Export Skills Shortage

Director of Education and Special Projects at the Institute of the Institute of Export & International Trade, Kevin Shakespeare, gives the following update:

“Over the last few months the Institute of Export and International Trade has been active in developing qualifications that allow employers to access apprenticeship funding. Following these initiatives, the Institute has qualification options at different educational levels covering international trade, supply chain and logistics.

“For employers with an annual pay bill over £3 million you will be able to offset your apprenticeship levy payments. Employers with a pay bill below £3 million will also benefit in that you will receive 90% funding towards the cost of the qualification.”    

Director General of the Institute of Export & International Trade, Lesley Batchelor, said:

“We are delighted to now be delivering apprenticeships that offer companies to draw upon the apprenticeship levy to increase their skills and capacity for growth in international trade. With Brexit coming up and the many other challenges involved in global trade, we firmly believe these apprenticeships are a great solution to addressing our export skills shortage as a nation.”

To find out more on Apprenticeships in International Trade please telephone the Institute on 01733 404400 or email