Doing business globally and maintaining a competitive edge requires the development of new skills and knowledge.
Exporters must have access to a trusted network of skilled professionals to help their business to grow.
Surprisingly, international trade is perhaps the only recognised profession that hasn’t developed a global standard for certifying trade professionals – until now.
The Global Trade Professionals Alliance (GTPA) launched in January, has established a certification program for trade professionals – the first of its kind in the world.
GTPA is a not-for-profit, membership-based organisation connecting individuals and organisations to a trusted global network with recognised capabilities.
The Global Trade Professional (GTP) program will be based on ISO/IEC 17024, an internationally recognised standard for professionals who achieve a certain competency level in a chosen field.
Under the scheme, a new standard has been established for professionals in trade related industries including trade finance, freight forwarders, accountants, lawyers, supply chain managers and logistics.
The GTPA has identified 30 different professions that fall under the trade umbrella.
Those professions come under the categories of trade management, trade finance, supply chain management, trade policy and compliance.
Driving force behind GTPA
Membership of the GTPA is open to all trade professionals from students to senior executives.
The new body will work with a wide spectrum of business organisations, peak industry bodies, chambers of commerce, trade education providers and government agencies.
Lisa McAuley, former CEO of the Export Council of Australia, is the driving force behind the GTPA.
Ms McAuley, now GTPA Executive Director, helped to establish the new body after independently undertaking six years of painstaking research.
Filling a gap in the market
“I identified a gap in the market,” she explains. “Universities graduates don’t necessarily have the practical skills or the trade policy knowledge needed to be successful in global trade.
“We had to find a way to ensure that the next generation receive the right technical training – a combination of theory, technical trade skills and trade policy knowledge.”
This will ensure SMEs are equipped with the skills and capabilities required to conduct profitable global trade.
Officially launched in Argentina in December last year, the GPTA is now growing its network in partnership with Approved Certification Bodies in Australia, New Zealand, UK, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Singapore.
Technical and niche profession
“Trade is actually a profession – just like an account or a lawyer – and it can be very technical and niche,” says Ms McAuley.
“Therefore, we should have a professional certification to recognise those skills.
“There was no point in establishing a certification system just for Australia – we had to create a certificate that has international recognition.”
Ms McAuley, who has worked in international trade for over a decade, says a set of competency requirements had been developed for trade professionals under international standard ISO/IEC 17024 to endorse a person’s qualifications.
Later this year, the GTPA plans to offer businesses another certification option – ISO 17065 – a rating system under which international businesses can achieve “globally trusted” status.
This will assist companies to also identify the right partners when expanding overseas and connect buyers and sellers, all underpinned by the trust of ISO 17065 and ISO 17024.
“We are also encouraging companies to employ the right people with the right skill set,” says Ms McAuley.
“We are then trying to build a trade eco-system that will connect business to the right support anywhere in the world. Although I should note this will take time … as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day!”
Seeking certification bodies
The GTPA is now seeking suitable accredited partners globally to play a key role as certification bodies for the new scheme. GTPA is built on a model of collaboration and partnerships.
“We are trying to identify the right partner and industry bodies so that we can empower them to adopt an effective certification scheme for the on-going development of global trade professionals either in their country or in the various areas of specialisations,” Ms McAuley says.
“Organisations such as universities and educational institutions are encouraged to also consider becoming approved course providers, which provides a fast track pathway for certification of ongoing training for global trade professionals to maintain their CPD.”
The GTPA is now holding discussions with off-shore partners to establish a local delivery model for implementation globally.
“Our goal is to have our partners in place by October this year,” says Ms McAuley.
“And we would like to have the ISO 17065 standard up and running before the end of the year.”
Ms McAuley says the GTPA is all about supporting SME exporters in their quest to grow their business internationally as well as working to support SME engagement into Global Value Chains.
“SMEs account for a significant percentage of gross domestic product and they are the backbone of most economies and supply chains.
“The establishment of the Global Trade Professional Program will benefit SMEs by providing clear professional development paths and building appropriate skills and knowledge.
“We want to ensure SMEs have access to the right support when they go overseas – whether they have to hire a lawyer, find a freight forwarder – they will be able to access all those support services.”
Ms McAuley says trade is something people don’t consciously consider as a career.
“They tend to fall into it,” she admits. “That’s something we will be striving to change.”
Potential to create new trade roles
The new certification program has the potential to create a range of new trade roles within organisations now exporting or considering global trade.
“Supply chain management and security are just two vital issues businesses will have to take more ownership of internally in the future,” she says.
“And export regulations and compliance are becoming critical components for businesses to develop internally. There will be some great opportunities for people with expert knowledge in these areas.
“Companies that employ people with the right skill sets in these fields will have a huge competitive advantage.”
Encouraging more women to work in global trade
Ms McAuley says a key priority of the GTPA will be to encourage more women to choose a career in international trade.
“I would love to see more women taking up roles that aren’t traditionally filled by women – for example trade finance, freight and supply chain and logistics.”
International trade is a subject that should be taught at schools, she says.
“Students could then see the benefits and hopefully aspire to a career in trade.”
Advisory committee established
An International and Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC), chaired by Canadian world trade expert Alexander Malaket, has been established to provide advice on a range of trade issues.
The 15-member committee, comprising high profile trade, government, industry and education representatives, is expected to meet at least three times a year.
Ms McAuley says the committee has been working tirelessly over the past year to provide the technical knowledge to define the structure and rules of the GTP program.
ITAC will play a key role in the certification process as well as developing partnerships with certification bodies and build a global network.
While the GTPA’s main focus will be on the not-for-profit certification program, it has also established a commercial arm.
Trading under the GTPServices Pty Ltd banner, GTPA provides consulting services to government, industry and the private sector on issues relating to international trade.
Services include advice on free trade agreements, market development, trade and supply chain finance, international trade and business management, marketing, supply chain management as well as trade policy, regulation and compliance issues.
“Trade and investment are key drivers of innovation and long-term economic prosperity,” says Ms McAuley.
“Our goal is to bring people together to elevate the profile of trade and build professional capabilities.
“This in turn will improve the performance and success of companies in global trade and boost the efficiency of trade processes.”
To learn more about GTPA visit: www.gtpalliance.com