One of the most crucial questions a business school must answer is this: What skills do companies need from their employees to succeed in the marketplace?

Understanding the answer to this question allows business schools around the world to create and adjust curricula to prepare future business leaders. This is why the Center for International Business Education and Resource (CIBER) at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business is committed to funding research through organizations like the National Center for the Middle Market (NCMM) that provide insights into employer needs, as well as usable market insights that help businesses compete.

The recent Global Supply Chain Management and the Middle Market research report published by the NCMM surveyed hundreds of middle-market firms to gauge the benefits, opportunities, challenges, and risks associated with purchasing and selling abroad for middle-market companies. Of the many insights gleaned from the report, one that stood out to the Ohio State CIBER was Insight #4, which discussed how “Companies struggle to hire domestic employees with international supply chain expertise and often must develop their own talent.” The report cited how middle-market firms were seeking over 16 international supply chain skills, with language proficiency, international supply chain expertise, and trade and export knowledge topping the list. This was further emphasized by companies that responded, citing the top areas business schools could improve their international business education programs, with the top three being language and cultural competence, import/export expertise, and collaboration with global organizations.

Universities around the country have already begun to develop innovative programs aimed at addressing the skills gap highlighted by the NCMM research report. Over the last decade, export-focused programs such as the Maryland Global Consulting Program offered through the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, and the Ohio Export Internship Program at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business, have emerged. National organizations such as the National Association of District Export Councils (NADEC) have also identified talent needs as a top priority for US exporters and have launched outreach programs to students of all ages through its Trade DNA program, which hopes to highlight international trade and export jobs as potential career opportunities.

The Fisher College of Business has long known the need for a globally competitive workforce and has worked to embed global experiential learning opportunities within the business curriculum to allow students to develop the competencies needed by businesses competing in an interconnected global marketplace. Fisher’s Office of Global Business manages dozens of global programs in over 20 countries that allow students to study and work abroad, directly addressing the desired skills cited in the NCMM report. The Ohio Export Internship Program (OEIP) is a notable and national award-winning program focused on developing an export workforce. OEIP is an intensive 7-month program that trains undergraduate students on the fundamentals of exporting and international trade and places them in paid internships with small- to medium-sized Ohio businesses. The program begins with a spring semester course that introduces students to the many topics an exporting company must be knowledgeable in, such as harmonized codes, Incoterms, letters of credit, and export compliance. To help solidify the course concepts, students are connected with guest speakers who serve as resources during their internships and are tasked with developing export plans for real companies by the end of the semester. The students then take their international trade and export knowledge into 3-month summer internships with Ohio companies interested in growing their export sales. This program was first piloted at the Fisher College of Business in 2012 and has since been adopted by six universities across the state of Ohio which now teach the OEIP curriculum and match students with companies across the state. This program is supported by the Ohio Department of Development, which provides a reimbursement of 50% of the intern wages to companies at the conclusion of the program.

The insights gained from the NCMM report emphasize the need for the Ohio State CIBER to collaborate with other organizations, particularly those that focus on language and cultural learning. Ohio State offers nearly 30 languages across eight departments and is also home to eight area study centers and institutes. The Ohio State CIBER is currently exploring partnerships with these language departments and area study centers to further drive the language and cultural competencies needed most by middle-market firms.

The second most important question business schools should ask is this: How do we update our curriculum to give students the skillsets needed in the marketplace? Support from leadership and collaboration with educators in the humanities, particularly in foreign language, world history, and cultural studies, are key components for meaningful and long-term curriculum changes. Smaller colleges and universities, such as community colleges, HBCUs, and MSIs, can also leverage the resources and network of entities such as CIBERs, which were created by Congress to increase and promote the nation's capacity for international understanding and competitiveness.

Business schools can bridge the skills gap and better prepare students for the demands of middle-market firms in a globalized economy by expanding partnerships, developing interdisciplinary programs, leveraging online platforms, and fostering industry collaborations. Through these collaborative efforts and innovative educational strategies, we can ensure that future graduates are equipped with the expertise needed to thrive in international supply chain roles and drive the success of businesses worldwide.


Dominic DiCamillo is the Senior Director of the Office of Global Business and Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at The Ohio State University. Dominic instructs the BUSMHR 4570 Establishing Export Firms course on global trade and export as part of the Ohio Export Internship Program at the Fisher College of Business.  Dominic has a private sector background is supply chain management as a Logistics Analyst at DHL Supply Chain, as well as public-sector experience building the Ohio Export Internship Program through his work at the Export Assistance office at the Ohio Department of Development and the Food Export Association of the Midwest. Dominic is a Certified Global Business Professional through NASBITE International and a two-time graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned his BSBA in Operations Management as well as his MBA from the Fisher College of Business.



The Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at The Ohio State University is a federal grant-funded national Center of Excellence that seeks to promote international business education and research and enhance U.S. business competitiveness in the global marketplace. The Ohio State CIBER works to expand global trade, highlight the National Center for the Middle Market, resolve supply chain and logistics challenges, and build talent pipelines.  Ohio State CIBER is one of 16 CIBERs throughout the country, with each CIBER building on local and regional competencies with the goal of supporting its respective region.