Compliance training for the larger organization is an essential part of any compliance department’s scope of work. Having colleagues throughout the supply chain who are familiar with concepts such as HS code classification, Incoterms, valuation and import licensing is an advantage to any global trade manager, as it allows for quicker and more effective discussions when issue arise in day to day operations.

However, international trade compliance topics are usually very dry and not very exciting for most part. This leads to low levels of engagement from participants who often simply just want to tick off a training item from a list. As a result, despite conducting several rounds of periodic trainings, the overall level of awareness of compliance concepts do not increase in the organization.

Moreover, internationally recognized standards of training in topics related to trade compliance are hardly available.

How can compliance training programs  be made effective?

Training can be conducted in several ways:

  1. Traditional face to face trainings
  2. Webinars
  3. Click through courses
  4. Video series
  5. Reading material disseminated through emails

A mix of methods is usually recommended, but implemented in a structured way such as:

  1. Start with traditional face to face trainings to the target audience.
  2. Introduce the audience to resources such as recommended videos series’ or self reading materials
  3. Use webinars or click through courses to conduct refresher trainings for audience members who have already attended face to face training sessions
  4. Disseminate short articles and cases studies using email to the target audience to maintain interest between main training sessions

How to design effective compliance training?

Case studies: Compliance training works best with extensive use of case studies to illustrate concepts and solidify understanding. Trainers who run through dry compliance material will have a difficult time engaging audiences, who will in turn fail to internalize information. By using cases studies that the audience is able to relate with easily, the message sticks. Audience members will also be better able to understand when and how the compliance concepts apply to their work.

Focus on single topics: Training sessions should focus on single topics and not attempt to cover too much content at one go. As concepts such as HS classification rules, Incoterm considerations, Customs valuations and transfer pricing are alien to most people outside compliance departments, attempting to dump too much data on audience members at one go will result in the training  becoming ineffective.

Include calls to actions: During the training sessions, the trainer has to include specific calls to action to audience members. Without specifying the actions that audience members need to take or consider, they may be unable to “connect the dots” on their own. Compliance managers cannot blame supply chain employees who fail to understand how compliance concerns relate to them in operational terms. For example, a customer service officer may have attended training on HS classification however he/she may not understand that the company cannot depend on supplier HS codes for import declarations. If the trade compliance manager expects customer service officers to reach out to the compliance function for HS classification guidance, this should be specifically called out.

A final word

As the compliance training program develops within the company, the trainer can start to include certification standards to recognize individuals who demonstrate advanced understanding of topics. If the HR department can recognize these certifications in talent appreciation, it may act as an incentive for individuals to improve these mastery of compliance concepts.

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