What is ISO accreditation and why is FITT applying for it? Learn about new updates and changes related to ISO 17024 

28/07/2021

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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? 

“ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization. They develop and publish International Standards as an independent, unbiased accreditation body. Their job is to create fair, accurate, and world-class standards that only companies and organizations with industry-leading benchmarks and offerings can achieve.”

  

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.  

“Those who work with CITPs can trust that these individuals have successfully fulfilled a rigorous set of competency standards and possess the verified experience to establish them as true international trade professionals. Those who earn their CITP can take pride in knowing that they have ascertained an exceptionally high degree of professional experience to establish them as leaders in the field.

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. 

“Those who are not a CITP in good standing as of December 31, 2022, will be required to pass the new CITP Professional Examination, in addition to meeting the standard requirements currently in place.”

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… 
Requirement  Description 
Education and Work Experience  Either: 

  • FITT Diploma achieved through the completion of the FITTskills program or equivalent credits + a minimum of one (1) year international trade work experience aligned with a CITP competency(ies) 

OR 

  • Qualification through the Executive Path which requires a minimum of 10 years international trade work experience related to the 13 CITP competency categories in executive-level roles 
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 designationregardless of education and work experiencemust 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: 

  1. Continued Learning: Completion of 30 Professional Development Units (PDUs) over a 3-year cycle. CITPs will be able to earn these PDUs in several ways, and the process will be achievable, while simultaneously ensuring that individuals that hold the CITP are continuing to strengthen their knowledge and skills. 
  1. Ethics: Annual agreement to abide by the CITP Standards of Ethical Conduct. 
  1. Fees: Payment of annual CITP certification dues. 

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 certification@fitt.ca 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. 

About the author

Author: FITT Team

The Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) is the standards, certification and training body dedicated to providing international business training, resources and professional certification to individuals and businesses. Created by business for business, FITT’s international business training solutions are the standard of excellence for global trade professionals around the world.

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