Q1 2019: Market Insights for Customs & Global Trade

Each quarter, our specialist Indirect Tax team monitors the number of in-house vacancies released onto the job market across Europe to provide you with a quarterly overview of recruiting trends. The data below provides a digestible snapshot to the in-house market from adverts posted directly from employers.*


*Note – we omit the number of confidential mandates that HJ are assigned or job adverts posted by other recruitment firms. It should also be highlighted that many vacancies go unadvertised due to confidential or highly sensitive searches.

What happened in Q1?

Following on from our Q4 breakdown, we could only expect a continuous recruitment trend in Customs & Global trade. With more pressure put on what was once a siloed role, numerous areas have drawn attention from companies worldwide. This comes with changes in legislation and regulations in cross-border trade which, arguably, has been caused by an uncertain Brexit. In preparation for multiple outcomes, the deeper focus has moved closer to businesses opening up vacancies for Customs & Global Trade specialists.

Looking into the Customs Market

The first quarter of 2019 proved an upward trend rolling into the New Year. Across the UK, Ireland, & Europe, 108 in-house vacancies were released, reflecting a 33% increase in demand for Customs & Global Trade specialists.

Establishing & Analysing the Demand

Looking at the UK & Ireland over the last quarter, there’s been a significant increase in demand for Managers and less at leadership grades. There’s still evidence that businesses need to bring in specialist talent at the lower grades, to strengthen their customs departments to remain up to date with legislation and anticipate any radical changes after Brexit.

Europe visibly reflects shifts of focus towards customs job posts. A total of 64 vacancies opened up in Q1 which coincides with companies shifting trade departments across international waters.

  • Analyst – With a considerable demand in the newly qualified field, it’s evident that there is a continuous trend in searching for junior professionals who are beginning their careers in Customs. Jobs at this level account for 45% of the in-house market.
  • Assistant Manager – Whilst demand remains fairly similar to Q4 of 2018, the lack of talent in this area is evident as hiring managers face increasing pressure to identify future customs leadership. With so many opportunities being released at the next stage, assistant managers have extended opportunities to prolong their careers in customs & trade.
  • Manager – These roles have proven to be a prevalent part of current business operations in the UK, Ireland, and Europe. Making up 34% of the market, it’s obvious that the requirements for seasoned professionals at this grade are now high in demand to match the sheer volume of work.
  • Leadership – Only 10% of new vacancies fell within the senior grades. At this stage, multiple Directors and VPs of Customs departments have the added pressure of taking on the additional responsibility of meeting the Manager’s obligations. Lack of talent in mid-tier level roles has negative implications on a business if there’s a lack of specialism or knowledge of key aspects of the sector.

In preparation for the shifts and changes in trade legislation and regulations of cross-border transactions, the job market has remained consistent in the UK and rising in Europe.

In conclusion…

There’s an intriguing light being shed on Customs & Global Trade as we roll into Q2 of 2019. The rising demand for specialists can be accredited to several external factors. However, many seasoned professionals have anticipated this occurrence since Customs departments are now moving into the limelight.

Shifts in international trade and ever-changing cross-border agreements are evident factors that have caused a stir in the job market. In such a job-driven market, finding numbers may not be the issue, but finding the right person with the relevant technical knowledge and experience seems to be a current trend. With the current state of the market, long-term solutions are perhaps something that businesses may need to consider as time passes.

If you’re a tax professional and you’re looking to delve deeper into a specialist field, now might be the time to consider moving into a Customs-focused role. If you’d like to hear more about the job market, please get in touch with our specialist Customs & Global trade recruiters.

Please also read our Indirect Tax and FS & Insurance Indirect Tax insights.

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