Training programs help keep shippers, intermediaries current with regulations.
By Chris Gillis
Many shippers and freight transportation intermediaries often feel their way through the regulatory darkness when establishing or increasing their presence in international markets.
The danger is that these companies may quickly find themselves in violation of federal regulations governing import and export activities, resulting in severe penalties and unwanted publicity.
The World Academy, based in Elizabeth, N.J., has helped numerous companies in recent years avoid this quagmire by offering an array of customs compliance, transportation management and logistics seminars. The academy boasts a roster of more than 10,000 students taught by its instructors since its inception.
'All of our classes are seminar-oriented and provide certification upon completion, meeting Customs' reasonable care control standards,' said Neil Lenok, managing director for The World Academy.
The academy became the replacement for the World Trade Institute, founded in 1978 and once housed in the former New York World Trade Center. 'The World Trade Institute never really came back after 9/11,' Lenok said.
To fill this sudden void in industry training, the academy reinvented itself in 2001 and made a decision not to focus on a landmark location in New York City, but instead run classes in all key gateways of the United States and abroad. Today, the school teaches both public and in-house seminars on a variety of global trade issues, Lenok said.
The World Academy
|'Unfortunately, when companies cut budgets, it's advertising and education that go first. Compliance doesn't go away and when employees don't get that training they risk exposure'|
The seminars generally run from one to three days at a cost of $595 to $1,200. The average class size is 10 to 12 students, led by one to two instructors.
'Their staff is knowledgeable and personable,' said Cathy Craig, corporate customs compliance supervisor for New York Air Brake, in an interview. 'With the smaller classes, you are able to ask more specific questions pertaining to your company and they are available for questions after the course is over by e-mail or phone.'
Lenok said the academy's seven instructors all have a minimum of 20 years industry experience. Head instructors Thomas Cook and Rennie Alston, for example, have authored numerous books and articles on the topics of international freight transportation and compliance.
The academy caters not only to shippers. In 2006, it extended its programs to freight forwarders, customs brokers and carriers. Lenok described the move as successful, and noted that the academy recently ran a compliance program in partnership with the Florida Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association.
'The students were very pleased with the instructors, content and the delivery process,' Cari Cossio, the association's director who arranged for the classes, said in a statement. 'They all learned a great deal and would plan on attending future programs.'
The academy also works with other training institutions. In September, it renewed its contract with the Professional Association of Import and Export Compliance Managers (PACMAN), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting trade compliance management in the industry. The association's board has executives from companies such as Est'e Lauder, Pall Corp., L'Oreal, Nike, American River International and Amgen Corp.
With help from the academy, PACMAN has trained and certified more than 225 corporate supply chain managers in import and export trade compliance. These programs help companies meet due diligence, reasonable care and supervision and control standards issued by government agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Industry and Security.
'Train The Trainer.' The World Academy also offers a 'train the trainer' program. The academy said the program is designed to 'indoctrinate the compliance officer quickly, comprehensively with an ability to bring back to the company a 'head start' in compliance management.'
To participate, a company sends its compliance officer to one of the academy's New York or New Jersey offices for a week-long, 60-hour program.
'Prior to the course, I was asked what topic I wanted to focus on and this was incorporated into the training,' said New York Air Brake's Craig, who enrolled in the program last year. 'Because it's one-on-one, you are able to ask specifics on your company and obtain answers on issues that you may not be aware of and/or understand.'
'It instilled in me the confidence to do business internationally,' said Gary Goodman, international compliance director for Cincinnati-based Meyer Tool Co. 'Before, I was not aware of everything that was involved in compliance.'
In the past, Meyer, like many companies, generally relied on its third-party logistics providers to oversee compliance. However, when the company started to supply the aerospace industry two years ago, U.S. export compliance took on a whole knew meaning.
'It's not about not trusting the 3PL, rather you as the principal party in interest are ultimately responsible for compliance,' Goodman said.
The academy's train the trainer program, which costs $7,500 plus expenses, includes a certificate in compliance management; books, manuals and resource materials; and trade and government contacts. In addition, the academy provides a half-day session at the participant's office 30 days after the training to discuss areas of concern or uncertainty. This service, including the academy's travel expense, is offered at no additional cost.
The biggest benefit of the program is turning individual compliance officers into in-house trainers themselves. 'Making all departments aware of compliance issues is ongoing and this has helped me to train personnel on importing and exporting procedures,' Craig said.
Budget Cuts. Lenok said The World Academy continues to adjust its course content, venue and programs to meet the changing regulatory landscape created by various government agencies involved with trade compliance and the variables affecting international trade and supply chain management.
There's concern, however, during this current global economic downturn many chief financial officers may be tempted to trim budgets for compliance training.
'Unfortunately, when companies cut budgets, it's advertising and education that go first,' Lenok said. 'Compliance doesn't go away and when employees don't get that training they risk exposure.
'Enforcement agencies can shut down your import and export operations for wrongdoing,' he said.
The academy is exploring the increased use of webinars and other distance learning programs to save companies on travel costs.
Craig plans to take an academy seminar in 2009. 'Companies must stay current,' she said. 'Yes, it does cost money to train, but if you do not keep up with the government regulations and changes, it could cost your company in fines.'
'Everyone is in uncharted regulatory waters these days,' Goodman said. 'But we feel more secure today at Meyer Tool through these programs.'
For more information, access The World Academy's Web site at www.theworldacademy.com.