The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association was founded September 1948 in Montreal by a small group of freight forwarders who saw a need to create an industry association to meet the professional demands of its members. CIFFA represents and supports members of the Canadian international freight forwarding industry in providing the highest level of quality and professional services to their clients.
For over 65 years CIFFA, which is headquartered in Toronto, has established a high level of professionalism within the freight forwarding industry in Canada. Through the years, the Association has grown from an intimate group of eight Montreal freight forwarders to a national organization of approximately 245 Regular and 169 Associate member firms.
The past decades have witnessed tremendous change for the freight forwarding industry with the advent of containerization, multimodalism, strategic alliances and integrated carriers and forwarders. To safeguard the interests of the trading and transport community, CIFFA’s challenge has been not only to monitor the ever-changing world marketplace but also to influence positively government regulatory and statutory changes.
CIFFA has benefited since the very beginning from the leadership of a succession of committed individuals serving as President, the volunteer head of the Board of Directors. Thirty-one people have assumed that role over the past 65 years, guiding the organization as the industry and members’ needs have evolved.
Under the leadership of Past President George Kuhn (1981-1983) whose emphasis was on education, CIFFA developed the first modules of its education program, which fairly quickly became popular with employers and is now regarded internationally as industry-leading.
Under Paul Lobas (2000-2004), CIFFA added a third and fourth semester to the certificate program, expanding it from a one-year to a two-year program. The second-year courses focused on such topics as specialized freight services, supply chain management, and marketing, rounding out a freight forwarder’s education. The result of this expanded program was a new designation – PFF, Professional Freight Forwarder. Subsequently, CIFFA made its first foray into online program delivery.
Under Robert Walker (2007-2009), the Board approved the establishment of the CIFFA Scholarship Program, through which the association provides financial post-secondary education, particularly in the arena of supply chain management.
The freight forwarding industry has undergone considerable technological change over the last 65 years. CIFFA promoted from the get-go the use of value-added networks, email, documentation software and e-commerce, all of which helped to better link logistics partners and clients, improve message and documentation-transmission speed, reduce costs and facilitate increased volume.
CIFFA has invested in the development of successful classroom and online education programs that are becoming recognized globally and licensed in international markets. CIFFA was the first association to become an approved member training school offering the new ICAO/FIATA Air Dangerous Goods training programs.
Since the introduction of e-Learning, the pace of change has quickened exponentially. Online access to programs is robust and continues to grow. New technologies – mobile devices and social media, for example – are increasingly being put to use. While young people, in particular, are opting for online delivery through their e-readers and mobile phones, many others still choose to learn in the classroom. Even then, though, technology has made its way into use. Students now utilize wireless remote devices to answer questions, enabling teachers to assess their understanding of the material throughout the program.
To address this change in the marketplace, CIFFA provides on-demand training, which allows learners to complete courses online at their own pace. For the association, this is a novel approach to program delivery: Students are now able to determine their own schedules for learning.
A key benefit of CIFFA’s increased use of online program delivery is the accessibility it has provided for a much wider group of learners. For many students who don’t live near one of the few major cities where classes are offered – including a growing number of international students – online learning is a good replacement for learning through correspondence.
About 2,000 students are enrolled in CIFFA programs. At one time, almost all of the people taking a program were the employees of member companies, individuals looking to upgrade their skills to further their careers. Now, more and more job seekers and young people who have never worked in the industry are signing on for the programs, having discovered them online, or through a college or private training institute