Growth through diversification – IATTO Forum highlights best practice

Fri 28 Sept 2012
Posted by: International Trade News
Trade News
Estonia, a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe and a world leader in internet-based infrastructure development, was the ideal venue for the 38th Forum of IATTO (International Association of Trade Training Organisations).

The medieval capital Tallinn played host to 28 countries and 240 delegates, taking part in four days of discussion about how international trade works. The focus was on the challenges of global collaboration and how we can learn to manage the education, training and management needs of a shrinking world that wants to trade out of a global recession.

The Institute was one of many organisations asked to join the debate about communicating the skills and competences of international trade. The forum gave us numerous opportunities to share information and best practice, not least a fine example from a Swedish project placing people in businesses looking to start exporting, or to export to a new market. Hasse Karlsson, managing director of ITM in Stockholm, explained that with just 10,000 euro investment in training and education, the ROI was on average 50,000 euro in increased export trade and another 2-3 new jobs after one year. Food for thought.

In this time of immediacy and instant gratification, knowledge is being undervalued when it should be revered. Twenty years ago Estonia started to educate its young people in ICT and today they can claim a fully integrated ICT sector creating millions of euros of income for their country, with players like Ericsson, Skype and Microsoft directly investing. As said by Rain Laine, Microsoft Estonia: “Twenty years ago Estonia invested in education and today they are world-class leaders.”

We heard from an inspiring volunteer campaign that plans to clean up the world, along with the Head of Interpol Estonia; both explained how to manage teams from very different perspectives.

We can also learn much from BLRT, a shipyard celebrating 100 years of business this year. IATTO delegates visited its premises and saw first hand how diversification really works. As demand for shipbuilding and repairs declined, BLRT applied its skills with metalwork and seals to develop a new business building high quality cranes and hydraulic systems.

This shipyard has seen so many changes but, most importantly, it has embraced change and thinks – as we’re all told – ‘out of the box’. Diversification is a matter of frame of mind and not just the application of skills.

European research shows us that the three top barriers to export are:

  1. Lack of time
  2. Resources
  3. Trade knowledge

By devoting time and effort to all three aspects, BLRT has truly bucked the trend.