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Liam Fox MP: To secure a new trading future, we need the brightest workforce we can gather

4 min read

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox writes for PoliticsHome, saying the newly launched International Trade Development Programme aims to cultivate the next generation of negotiators, policy makers and HM Trade Commissioners.

As the UK leaves the EU, it is vital that the UK government promotes and finances international trade and investment, champions free trade and promotes businesses from across the UK to grow internationally.

In order to secure this new trading future, we will need the brightest and most talented workforce we can gather. After all, these people will work for our country on the international stage, negotiate in cities around the world, secure investment and open up international markets to businesses of all sizes, ensuring that we strengthen the UK’s position as one of the 21st century’s great trading nations.

To find and cultivate this next generation of negotiators, policy makers and HM Trade Commissioners, we must widen our search to cover not just the country but also people in younger age ranges and with different skill sets and qualifications.

This is why, today, I am proud to launch the International Trade Development Programme. A world-first, the programme is aimed at school leavers and career switchers, and will provide an alternative to traditional graduate programmes or university courses.

There is no minimum qualification to apply, no degree requirement and no need for previous government experience. We are only looking for commitment and willingness to learn, an ambition to succeed and passion for the job. After all, our international trading heritage was not built on A-Levels.

DIT is offering unrivalled training opportunities including six months of work in one of DIT’s 127 international offices and a starting salary over £30,000. If successful, applicants will have a two-year programme which will provide a truly rounded understanding of international trade. Such is the enthusiasm for this course that, when I mentioned it during a recent school visit, one of the teachers asked whether they could apply as well – which I actively encouraged.

I want to create a culture where school career advisers are actively encouraging school leavers to think about entering the international trade profession, and our young people are setting out with ambitions of one day being the Chief Trade Negotiator for their Country, or being one of our ten HM Trade Commissioners based around the world.

Successful applicants will be joining a Department which is central in making the country become even more prosperous. They will be part of teams of other talented people at the cutting edge of UK policy as we encourage, inform, connect and finance businesses to increase our exports from 30% to 35% of national GDP.

There is a pressing need for these talents. Countries across the world are ramping up their trade and investment promotion efforts, and global headwinds are growing across the global economy. Ensuring Britain succeeds in this new era means having the right people and tools to ensure we can unlock the global economy, which will in turn support everyone in the UK.

We’re already starting to show what a real international trade policy can deliver for the UK, in jobs, investment and income for our public services. DIT has been working as never before to help businesses take full advantage of global opportunities, ensuring the UK remains the leading destination for international investments and known

I am proud to lead a department which has had a direct impact on our prosperity, and proud of the staff that work within it. As the Department celebrated its third anniversary at the weekend, it is clear that Global Britain needs the best talent and the brightest minds to make the most of our new global opportunities.

Over the past three years, I have spent a great deal of time talking about the benefits of free trade. Open, free and fair trade, rooted in a sound and relevant international rules-based trading system has repeatedly shown itself to be of huge benefit to both individuals and states; producers and consumers; and in both developed & developing countries alike.

We’re on the cusp of striking out with our own trade policy for the first time in more than four decades, and I encourage all to apply or, if you are reading this but aren’t looking for a job yourself, pass the idea on to those who are looking for a unique, prestigious, challenging and rewarding opportunity.

This is just the beginning – now is the time to seriously get behind DIT so that we can give British business the backing it needs and grasp the golden opportunity in front of us.


The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP is the MP for North Somerset and Secretary of State for International Trade & President of the Board of Trade.

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