UKTI’s post-graduates for International Business Programme helps companies to employ the expertise of foreign-language speaking students based at local universities or higher education institutions.
UKTI West Midlands has teamed up with Aston university to support companies overcoming cultural and language barriers by offering placement opportunities. The graduates help firms build contacts and trade in countries where English is not the first language.
The graduates help with a range of exporting projects including making new international business contacts, helping develop international facing websites as well as advising on cultural and business etiquette.
One local firm that’s making the most of this opportunity is financing firm, Trade & Export Finance Ltd (TAEFL).
Birmingham-based TAEFL is a consultancy specialising in helping firm’s access financial solutions including bank loans. The firm creates financial structures which meet the needs of clients while also appealing to lenders.
TAEFL carries out annual research on international trading in the UK and uses its own finance house to finance orders both in the UK and overseas. Most clients are UK based selling into both home and overseas markets including Europe, USA, Kazakhstan, DR Congo and Nigeria
In the past 12 months, the company has employed seven graduates and postgraduates from the scheme. The graduates, from Lithuania, Romania, Nigeria, and Cyprus have been helping boost the firm’s export activity by assisting clients trade in overseas markets.
TAEFL was set up by Mark Runiewicz and Mary McErlain in 2001. Mark Runiewicz says: "To work well internationally, you need to go the extra mile to connect. We found that when helping clients trading in new markets where English is not the first language, potential customers feel safer and more at ease using their own language.
"The graduates, based in the firm’s Birmingham head office, gain experience both of customer service and of working in international trade. Their language and cultural skills mean they are able to create a firmer bond with both clients and potential clients, which is more likely to lead to a successful business relationship."
McErlain continues: "The Post-graduates for International Business programme is a win-win model. We benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of students who are happy to be given the opportunity to learn in a supportive environment.
"They help with their latest IT and business management skills, language and cultural awareness and in turn they are given a real life work experience opportunity."
"We pride ourselves in offering a quality service. We have grown in a relatively short time to 18 members of staff. Without the specialist knowledge and commitment, combined with the benefits of working with international graduates, this growth of the business would not have been possible."
One of TAEFL’s international students, Lelia Neophytou from Cyprus says: "Working in a growing international environment gives me real life experience in readiness for doing international business."
Independent research by Professor Foreman-Peck from Cardiff Business School estimates that as much as £48bn in international sales is lost every year because of language and cultural ignorance.
UKTI has a language and cultural adviser in every region of the country who act as a facilitator between companies and universities for the ‘Postgraduates for International Business’ scheme.
Lead Language and Cultural Adviser for UKTI in the West Midlands Gerti Willis said:
"Recruiting an international student from the market you are trying to export to can have a dramatic effect on your business. Students can help with undertaking market research, dealing with enquiries that arrive in a foreign language or making sure that you do not make a cultural faux pas when meeting international clients.
"The project with Aston university, TAEFL and UKTI demonstrate that this partnership brings a positive outcome for all parties.
University courses are typically delivered in 3 terms with significant break periods for students to engage in external work. Visa restrictions allow international students to work up to 20 hours during term time and full time during vacations.
For more information contact 44(0) 121 1942 or email email@example.com
Companies in the West Midlands can find out more about the services available through UK Trade & Investment by contacting the West Midlands International Trade Hotline on 44(0) 345 2220159. You can follow UKTI West Midlands on Twitter @wm_ukti
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