Demand growing for trade experts to counter Brexit red tape

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UK food manufacturers are said to be rushing to hire trade specialists to cope with the delays and red tape involved with getting products in and out of Northern Ireland.

According to recruitment firm New Street Consulting, businesses have had difficulties exporting and importing goods in and out of Northern Ireland since 1 January 2021, when the post-Brexit trade agreement came into effect. Checks are being made on products entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain and vice-versa, causing major transportation delays and some product shortages.

New Street Consulting said that it had witnessed poaching between firms for trade and logistics specialists, which had pushed up pay rates. Interims were being hired for as much as £1,000 per day and some some supply chain and logistics professionals were retraining to increase their expertise around trade issues.

Interims were being given the task by some companies to assess supply chains to see if alternative routes or suppliers could be used instead. Interims with prior experience of dealing with trade barriers or customs problems were being hired to gauge how problems and delays could be avoided or lessened, such as by amending particular products to meet EU requirements.

Smaller businesses were said to be having particular difficulty in sourcing these interim experts and paying the top rates for their services, with many of the larger food producers and manufacturers having recruited the leading experts before 1 January, in anticipation of problems occurring.

Laurence Frantzis, director at New Street Consulting Group, said: “As EU trade and customs issues are still relatively new for most UK businesses, this is an area where employment opportunities are available for those who can reskill quickly enough or have existing experience.

“Brexit is causing problems every day to food and drinks businesses on a scale not seen before. The challenge for businesses now is to retrain people quickly enough to solve all those new trade and supply chain issues.

“But with the pool of available trade and customs experts getting smaller and smaller by the week, businesses still looking to fix issues are racing against the clock in order to get the right personnel in place. As these issues are likely to continue for some months yet, businesses that have yet to source the right experts could quickly find themselves falling behind their rivals.”

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