Home Business NewsBusiness UK traders lack skills post-Brexit

UK traders lack skills post-Brexit

by LLB Reporter
7th Jan 22 12:30 pm

Experts from Digital Trader Services have warned of the challenges ahead for Britain’s borders following the new, complex EU-UK customs rules that took effect at midnight January 1st.

The changes mean that Britain’s businesses must now declare imports of all EU goods; a rule that is predicted to increase custom declarations by a factor of five – a worrying rise from 55 million to 270 million.

With such a sudden influx of declarations, there is growing concern about how Britain’s customs expertise will cope. In fact, DTS consortium partner the Institute of Export & International Trade reported its technical helpline saw a 379% increase in enquiries, while attendance of its trade related webinars has seen an 80% increase.

Just under two-thirds (64%) of businesses surveyed said that they had undertaken additional training to adjust to the new post-Brexit trade rules and processes, while nearly three-quarters (74%) of businesses have made Brexit related changes to their import and export arrangements.

Many businesses have also had to hire additional staff to deal with the new trade rules and processes, with nearly half (47%) saying they had sought support from a customs consultant, or a freight forwarded. A further 21% have hired additional staff to deal with the new rules.

DTS reported that although organisations were able to grow their customs teams many have struggled to hire the right people – and cost is often a barrier as specialist recruitment agencies demand high fees for skilled workers. Many businesses are also reporting a difficulty retaining skilled staff due to the high demand for them in an incredibly saturated market.

This all signals the increasing worry among businesses about their preparedness for the new rules; and nearly half of UK businesses have already admitted to a lack of knowledge around the new customs requirements for all EU trade.

Nick McCullough, Managing Director of MANFREIGHT Limited, a leading logistics, supply chain & transport business, commented on how his business is being impacted: “The skills shortage in Logistics is quite a challenge at the moment, in particular, the recruiting and upskilling of Customs Agents. This is a highly skilled role with multiple procedures to follow and many variables to consider. For example – the types of products, country of destination and methods of transportation.

“When we tried to recruit for these roles, we really struggled as there is simply not the experience in the market to meet the current demand and the salaries for such roles are currently highly inflated. The current systems only allow a small amount of automation, and the accuracy of data input needs to be 100%. Otherwise, we can face significant delays and/or fines in the movement of goods.”

To alleviate the customs burden currently facing the UK, businesses must look to alternative solutions. And technology provides the means to automate processes that were once handled by now scarce customs agents.

Using automated technology to navigate the lengthy processes associated with the latest declaration procedures will help to avoid the long delays which have been seen UK borders, especially as clearance can already take up to two days.

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