Last year, we announced that FITT would be applying for ISO 17024 Accreditation. In the announcement, FITT President and CEO Caroline Tompkins noted that “Preparing for ISO accreditation [would] be a herculean task for the FITT Board of Directors and management,” but it was worth it because it would enhance the credibility, value, and recognition of the CITP|FIBP* (Certified International Trade Professional) certification.
To better explain what ISO is, how the ISO accreditation process works, and why it’s important to certifying bodies like FITT, here are answers to some key questions and next steps.
What is ISO?
Those who achieve ISO accreditation are showcasing their ability to reach and maintain a level of excellence in their industry that is independently assessed, upheld, and monitored by outside experts. By taking this extra measure, these companies and organizations prove their commitment to accuracy, professionalism, and by-the-books operational processes—all hallmarks of well-run businesses.
What does ISO standardize?
In short: many, many, many areas, from large scope fields like manufacturing engineering and natural and applied sciences to specific fields like paper technology. Since their founding in 1947, ISO has developed a whopping 23,912 international standards and are, by far, the most recognized and respected organization for standardization. Their mandate is simple to grasp: “To develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.” For companies who attain ISO accreditation, this truly means ensuring standards of excellence that people can trust.
What is ISO 17024 and why is FITT applying for it?
ISO 17024 Standard, officially titled “ISO/IEC 17024:2012 Conformity assessment – General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons” is accreditation specifically designed for organizations that operate certification programs for individuals. Because FITT is a Canadian organization, FITT’s ISO 17024 accreditation application will be to the Standards Council of Canada (SCC).
The ISO 17024 Standard contains principles and specifies requirements that ensure that organizations operating certification systems for persons operate in a consistent, defensible, and reliable manner. The basis of the Standard distinguishes “certification” programs from other offerings by ensuring accredited programs are informed by competency standards AND candidates are examined on the same competency standards.
In addition to visibly solidifying FITT’s position as an industry-recognized international trade certification and standards-setting body, ISO 17024 accreditation will:
- Increase the credibility of the CITP
- Demonstrate globally the legitimacy, integrity, and value of the CITP
- Confirm that the CITP has been developed to the highest standards
In a nutshell, ISO 17024 will further prove FITT’s industry-leading reputation for certifying only the best international trade professionals, so accomplished individuals may, in turn, further develop the profession with their expertise.
Heads up: Changes on the way
To meet ISO 17024 criteria for accreditation, FITT must make a few changes to the CITP|FIBP certification program requirements. On the whole, these changes will have a minor impact on CITPs who achieved (or will be achieving) their certification prior to January 1, 2023.
Current CITPs and those who earn their CITP before January 1, 2023, must have their designation active with annual CITP dues paid (check your status here). Those who become inactive, or who let their CITP designation lapse, will need to reapply for certification under the new requirements, including writing the new CITP Professional Examination. To maintain ISO 17024 accreditation status, FITT cannot make any exceptions to any of the requirements.
Understanding what changes and what stays the same
To help you understand some of the changes that will be occurring with FITT’s ISO 17024 accreditation application, we’ve created a useful table below.
|What remains the same…|
|Education and Work Experience||Either:
|Ethical Conduct||Annual agreement to adhere to the CITP Standards of Ethical Conduct|
|Certification Dues||Payment to FITT of annual CITP certification dues|
|What changes effective January 1, 2023|
|CITP Professional Examination||Candidates: All individuals applying for the CITP designation—regardless of education and work experience—must pass the CITP Professional Examination.
All CITPs who lapse (are not ACTIVE) are required to reapply for certification which includes passing the CITP Professional Examination.
|FITT Membership||CITPs will have the option of opting-in to membership in FITT, as membership is not required for certification.|
|Certification Maintenance||All CITPs will have to complete the following in order to maintain their certification:
If you’re an active CITP and/or a FITTskills Diploma Holder with a minimum of 3 years’ experience working in international trade, you can be a part of our ISO 17024 accreditation process!
As part of the robust ISO accreditation process, FITT is now seeking CITP volunteers and FITTskills Diploma Holders volunteers with a minimum of 3 years’ experience working in international trade to participate as subject matter experts.
Voluntary consultation activities include participation in interviews, reviewing documentation, writing exam questions, participating in focus groups, and/or being a member of the exam development committee. Input from our international trade community will be used to shape the future of the profession as it pertains to the ISO standards. This is also a great opportunity for you to understand how ISO accreditation works and why it’s important for businesses around the world.
Those who are interested in applying can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
* Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) is trademarked for use within Canada. FITT International Business Professional (FIBP) is trademarked for use internationally. Both reflect the same FITT-certified designation.