They are short, they are flexible and applicable. Export-focused courses are meeting a gap in the market, rising enrolments suggest.
Enrolments for logistics studies at Massey University this year are up 30% on 2009, says Professor Norman Marr, director of logistics and supply chain management. “The feedback is we appear to have the content right, so students can immediately use what they have learned, which is beneficial to the employer.”
Postgraduate subjects include integrated logistics, and executive supply-chain decision-making. This year Professor Marr is looking for a student to undertake a postgraduate research programme investigating business’ control of the supply chain and effects on their decision-making such as pilfering and the expectation of sweeteners in other markets.
This year five new “export fundamentals” courses are offered, aimed at the management and trouble-shooting side of exporting; for example, putting together a business plan and dealing with agents, says Ken Vesey, learning manager of exporting and international trade.
They add to the practical topics such as international trade documentation. “We take participants through the process of filling out the docs they will probably need,” Vesey says. “Even if you are using a freight-forwarder you still have to know what happens and check your documentation. We give samples and say ‘find the mistakes and consider how much money you will lose if you did it that way’!”
The employer is paying training costs as the prices are not exorbitant, and often trainees are the small-medium business owners themselves, says Vesey.
This year he also hopes to start courses on specific countries or cultures, for example, China.
This year Export NZ offers in-house workshops to teach modules for the globally recognised Certificate and Diploma of International Trade at its Auckland premises.
Assignments for those qualifications are ultimately assessed by the New Zealand School of Export in Palmerston North that tutors online and by phone.
The modules in the diploma that students find particularly practical are international trade research and international marketing, says Alison Vickers, marketing director.
GETTING UP TO SCRATCH
School director Dr Romuald Rudzki says if New Zealand exporters want to compete successfully in global markets, they have to train to the same standard as their competitors in other countries. They need qualifications that are accredited by the global body, the International Association of Trade Training Organisations (IATTO), of which Rudzki is a board member.
”We need practical courses like ours. And you can have our qualification in your email signature.”
But Rudzki finds companies don’t fund students’ studies because of a lack of awareness of the value.
Recent diploma graduate Ziena Jalil, Trade Commissioner to Singapore, says she undertook the programme to keep abreast of what New Zealand exporters were studying and also to brush up on her knowledge.
“I wasn’t looking for another university degree – rather, something that was very practical and could be applied daily in the world of international trade.
“What I liked most about the diploma was the very helpful faculty and the flexibility of the programme. I travelled a lot in my previous role and would have struggled to complete a study programme that wasn’t as flexible.”
Another recent graduate is Pierre Schindler, a customer services team member servicing Europe at Fonterra.
“I was pleased to see that unlike courses offered at universities — I have studied economics, commerce and international business — the knowledge gained is practical and immediately applicable at the workplace,” he says.
“The one-on-one support I got during my studies has been outstanding. The staff have been very supportive and proactive at all times and didn’t spare efforts to ensure that I get the best out of my studies.”
Auckland business incubator The Icehouse does not deliver export courses as such, but increasing its resident and student businesses’ international capacity is a key aim, says Liz Wotherspoon, director of the ICE Bridge programme for established businesses.
“Whether a company goes offshore or exports or not, domestically it still needs to defend itself against international competition, such as global companies. So they need an international mindset.”
New Zealand Trade & Enterprise hopes to offer a “global mindset leadership programme” from next year that will include a pilot, says Euan Purdy, manager of business development.