International trade competency standards will promote skills development and global businesses growth



Scott-Forbes-Competency-ArticleWe recently had a chat with Scott Forbes, Director of Human Resources at Emerson Process Management’s Canada Engineering Center in Calgary, AB, who has volunteered his time to be a Steering Committee member for our International Competency Standards Project.

From Human Resource Director to Steering Committee Member

Throughout this project—which will define and standardize the knowledge and skills needed for occupations core to international trade—Scott will be lending his real-world business experience.

As a Steering Committee member, he will help us ensure the results of our project are practical and applicable to the industry. It will also give us more insight as to how the results of our project can be used to help companies like his continue to hire the most competent international business professionals and fill human resource gaps.

During his career in human resources, Scott has done business with Canada, Mexico, the U.S. and Europe. He has been working at Emerson for 26 years, ever since it purchased  Fisher Controls International Inc. in 1992. Emerson helps businesses automate their production, processing and distribution facilities in a variety of core industries.

So why is Scott so passionate about this project?

He believes, unquestionably, that there is a demand for classifying international trade competencies.

I am a big proponent of a competency-based system. It is a focusing mechanism, and it is a must.

Emerson currently uses a competency program for its hiring, which begins with highlighting a long list of competencies. His human resource team then goes in and ranks the competencies in terms of low, medium and high priority. Once they whittle down to the top 20, they can begin to determine the critical competencies to fill the role.

“Sometimes I think  the number of competencies we come up with for a job position becomes so many that there is too much work needed to determine what is truly critical for success,” says Scott.

Simplifying the hiring process

The International Competency Standards that FITT is seeking to create will simplify this process, and remove much of the legwork. With the assistance of practicing international trade professionals in a variety of sectors, jobs and ranks across Canada and internationally, we will pinpoint the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in approximately 50 occupations core to international trade.

Despite any challenges with its current competency program, Emerson is world-class in terms of creating jobs internationally, and is very much ahead of the curve, says Scott.

He sees how necessary global trade is for Emerson’s growth and success, and in turn how crucial it is to hire the right people with the right competencies.

Recognizing the core competencies for international trade

With all his experience in the industry, Scott has identified what he sees as some of the key competencies necessary for success in global trade.

“You have to have managers who can operate in international environments,” he says. “They have to be able to be in Russia one day, be in Africa the next, and in Korea after that. When we recruit, we view someone who has spent time in other areas of the world as having a tremendous advantage.”

Scott also views multilingualism as a huge asset, and looks for that in his potential candidates for Emerson.

A common thread to help all Canadian businesses

International trade, and the skills needed to do it competently, is not only a key component to the success of Emerson, but for many businesses around the world.

The Competency Standards we’re developing will help companies identify which knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to seek in new employees, and to develop their current staff. This will assist them in filling their human resource gaps and creating the best teams for global success. —Caroline Tompkins, CITP|FIBP

Now is the time when global trade is transitioning from being viewed as a series of add-on business activities to competency-based occupations that are core to trade.

Standardizing these occupations, and the knowledge and skills needed to do them competently, will make it easier for individuals and companies to develop and build their capacity.

Are you interested in participating in our International Competency Standards Project? Come be a part of setting world-class industry standards and defining exactly what it takes to compete in international business!

About the author

Author: Madison Abraham

I’m the Marketing and Communications Assistant at Forum for International Trade Training (FITT). My background is in web content writing and web communications, and I love using my writing to convey an important message.

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