“Clearing agents? Aren’t they the boring, strict people who are always the delaying factor when a shipment must leave? Guus de Goeij knows only too well what people think of this profession. For years he was himself a customs clearing agent and now as a lecturer he still conveys his passion for the profession. And this is certainly necessary as there threatens to be a serious shortage of these professionals. “So let’s clear away the misunderstanding that it is a boring trade; it is actually very interesting and varied”.
In 1978 Guus de Goeij began as a clearing agent at a small forwarder at Schiphol. He wistfully thinks back to the time when documents were produced with a typewriter and carbon paper and he would walk to pick up and drop off paperwork. “Security was not up to much and you could occasionally cut a corner and walk over the platform”, he laughs. In the 1980s – the Golden Age of air cargo – De Goeij became interested in the customs clearing profession. For two years he studied one evening each week and obtained his trade diploma at the Oram in Amsterdam.
Develop specific courses
We are now quite some years further and Guus de Goeij is no longer a clearing agent. He works with Gerlach & Co. BV as Business Development Manager Customs & Trade Compliance and lectures at TLN Fenex. De Goeij gives introductory courses on customs and trade compliance awareness. “As I can share real stories and experience from the field, I can spark the interest of students in the field of customs clearing agents. It is a discipline that is ‘in full swing’ and developing.” The former clearing agent advises that there are initiatives at varying levels to put the profession on the map. “Various schools have plans to develop specific courses and also within the EU there are calls for a recognised diploma to be made compulsory for clearing agents. Moreover, we cannot wait long for these developments. If we wait too long, we will have a real problem in a few years’ time. There is significant ageing within the profession and far too few young people are choosing the profession.”
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