There is no shortage of highly educated people willing to work at Customs or in cross-border logistics. The current HBO (higher professional education) however does not offer employers precisely what they need. This is changing with a four-year part time Customs & Trade Compliance course within the Logistics Management curriculum at Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Venlo. This will prepare students to be definitive customs professionals.
“This Bachelor’s program addresses a clear need – not only for business but also within Customs”, says Frank Heijmann, Head, Commercial Relations of the Netherlands Customs. “We like to see well educated employees entering our service. Normally we prefer to select recruits ourselves. We have brought in graduates from various disciplines in this way. However, even at their level, they cannot start working until they have followed the internal ‘F’ course. This means sitting in class for a further two years even though they already have a HBO degree. Obviously this is not very efficient. And we had only a few qualified academics. Plus the internal course is not accredited. Internally trained ‘F’ers’ who wish to grow to an academic level suffer due to the fact that the Bachelor degree is not officially recognised.”
When the Rotterdam School of Management started its Master’s in 2014 this was a first step towards offering external education adapted to the demand for customs professionals. Heijmann: “That year 18 students started, over half of them worked for our service. It is great to see that each year the composition is becoming more diverse. Last September the third year began with nine Netherlands customs employees plus a few colleagues from Belgium, Ireland, Turkey and China. The other half of the participants came from the international business world.”
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