Skip to content
global trade management

How to address the growing skills gap in global trade management

· 5 minute read

· 5 minute read

A new whitepaper from the Thomson Reuters Institute (TRI) explores the causes of a growing skills gap in global trade management, and proposes several solutions.

Multinational companies the world over face an increasingly common problem—namely, they are finding it difficult to hire people with the skills and experience needed to fill many key global trade management positions.

This fact was revealed in the Thomson Reuters Institute Global Trade Report 2022, where 77% of global trade professionals surveyed agreed that rapid evolution of the industry is making it difficult to find talent to fill key roles. 45% of respondents also said they are considering outsourcing to fill these skills gaps because they cannot find the talent they need on the open job market.

To address this important issue, Thomson Reuters Institute has developed a white paper entitled “How to address the growing skills gap in global trade management,” which explains why the pipeline for global trade talent isn’t producing enough qualified people, and offers several strategies for dealing with the problem, both in the short term and long term.

Change drivers in global trade management

As the paper explains, the skills gap in global trade management is the result of two main factors, which, when combined, constitute a paradigm shift that is changing the skillset needed to be an effective global trade professional.

The first factor is the growing complexity and volatility of global trade. Geopolitical instabilities, scarcity in the supply chain, regulatory changes, sanctions, labor unrest, legal tussles, rising fuel costs—these are just a few of the issues that global trade professionals must deal with on a regular basis, and there are many more. This rapid expansion of job responsibilities has resulted in a need for people with an equally expansive resume of skills and aptitudes in these and other areas.

The second major driver of this skills gap is the influence and adoption of technology at almost every level of global trade. Communication between corporations, governments, and customs authorities is now conducted entirely by interlinked computer systems, and almost every aspect of trade—e.g., customs compliance, screening for sanctions and denied parties, monitoring regulatory changes, managing free-trade agreements (FTAs) and foreign-trade zones (FTZs), —is now governed and managed using various types of specialized software. Competence using this software is now a must, so technical acumen among global trade professionals is another essential skill that is in short supply.

Common skills gaps

This nexus between the growing complexity of global trade and the pace at which technology is changing has created a need for trade professionals with a much more extensive and wide-ranging skillset than previous generations. What companies are discovering, however, is that finding experienced talent with such a multifaceted range of abilities and experience isn’t easy.

In the Thomson Reuters Institute (TRI) Global Trade Report 2022, global trade professionals from around the world were asked whether the rapid evolution of the industry was making it difficult to find talent to fill key roles, and more than three-quarters (77%) said yes. Furthermore, 45% of companies worldwide said they are considering outsourcing to fill these skills gaps because they cannot find the talent they need on the open job market.

The TRI Global Trade Report 2022 identified a number of common skills gaps that global trade executive say they are seeing. Among them are deficiencies in compliance and regulatory knowledge, legal knowledge, and technical adeptness, as well as shortcoming in the areas of communication, leadership, and business acumen, not to mention practical experience in project and financial management.


Click here for a complementary webinar on ‘Exploring the trade compliance landscape, technology and talent: Impact on global trade compliance leaders’ and find out how other organizations are responding to the widening skills gap to find new talent


More technology in job profiles

The TRI whitepaper addresses specific skills gaps in the areas of business, management, and technology, and explains the role these skills play in a modern trade professional’s job profile.

Of particular interest is an extensive analysis of technology’s impact on global trade, and how emerging technologies are shaping future job profiles in the industry.

For example, one by-product of advanced trade technology is the growing importance of data analytics. Analytics gives companies much better visibility into their supply-chains, which helps manage risk and can provide a great deal of strategic intelligence—but these benefits are only available if the company has people who know how to extract important needles of insight from massive haystacks of trade data.

Industry action strategies

Unfortunately, the shortage of skilled talent needed to fill key roles in global trade management is so acute that corporate and industry leaders need to take action. The whitepaper outlines strategies for finding and developing young talent, as well as upskilling mid-career professionals to meet the industry’s immediate needs.

More importantly, the paper discusses what industry leaders and individual global trade professionals can do now to ensure a more robust pipeline of talent in the future.

In the TRI Global Trade Report 2022, 83% of respondents agreed that better technology is the best solution for the many problems they face, so tech’s continuing influence global trade is pretty much inescapable.  Technology alone cannot address all a company’s trade issues, however; the technology needs to be managed and operated by people who know how to maximize its effectiveness—and at the moment, there simply aren’t enough of these people to go around.

For more insight into this emerging issue, download the Thomson Reuters Institute whitepaper 2022, “How to address the growing skills gap in global trade management.”








More answers