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FSP’s View: A new guild for the 21st Century

The financial services sector is one that has growth in its DNA.

The resilience possessed by the industry has enabled it to weather the storms of increased scrutiny and continue to look at ways to create opportunities for expansion and routes into the sector for new entrants. Companies in the sector are seeing that the key way in which to achieve growth is through their people.

Recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics highlight the performance of our industry and others like it across the country.

The data said that the UK services sector grew at its fastest rate for five months in January. The ONS said output rose by 0.3 per cent in January from December, which is a wonderful achievement when other areas of UK business are still in downturn.

Many businesses in the financial services sector realise that apart from their reputation, their employees are also their most valuable asset.

If our long-established UK companies are to remain credible and competitive in the future, the way in which employers attract and develop new blood is one of the main issues on which they need to focus.

The 21stCentury Guild set to be launched in June 2013, is a new generation of Guild that provides industry with a way to support this issue.

As with the traditional guilds, the 21CG provides the infrastructure to inform and engage new potential recruits to the industry by providing them with careers information, skills development through to work experience and potentially into jobs and programmes such as apprenticeships, internships and graduate placements.

It is not just a business led initiative, however, where employers engage, recruit and train their future workforce. It is also a means for the industry to provide employability skills, work experience and opportunities for those seeking to enhance their skills, whether they are potential future recruits or our future customers.

Given that unemployment is still high, and amongst 16-24 year olds, it rose to 993,000 from November 2012 to January 2013 taking the rate for this age group to 21.2 per cent, this is an opportunity for the sector to help those individuals gain the skills they need for future employment.

What makes it a 21st Century Guild?

Given the high tech world in which we live and learn, we will utilise technology to both inform and educate and will capture those face-to-face elements of the 21CG such that those who are unable to travel to events or skills development activities can still access the information and develop their skills in a virtual way.

The 21CG will be powered by Directions, the Financial Skills Partnership’s successful online careers hub, which is already used by a number of individuals and careers advisers across the UK.

The current FSP outreach activity of 150 careers events a year for young people will be further enhanced through the guild enabling us to reach many more individuals both face-to-face and virtually.

21CG will engage at many levels: Individual, for those looking to start a career in the financial services sectors; stakeholders such as local education authorities and careers advisers; corporate for employers in the financial services sectors, who can also sponsor aspects of the 21CG; and other founding partners, who invest in the guild’s infrastructure and provide the overview for its activities.

Sponsors invest in specific activities, programs and events within the guild’s framework.

Activities in which sponsors can invest include guild workshops, engagement events, and supporting programs such as the Graduate Foundation College and other platinum level programmes, both in existence and in development.

Companies in the financial services sector, government agencies, education authorities and careers services interested in membership, as well as individuals who are keen to commence a career in the industry, should contact us to find out more.

As an individual member, participation in the guild is an opportunity for you to learn new skills, to grow, to change course, to be included and to be a part of the change we need. Furthermore, for young people considering financial services as a viable career option, the guild offers a wealth of resources to help them realise their aspirations.

We are already engaging with sponsors and benefactors both wishing to engage and attract young people through to providing individuals with skills that not only raise their prospects but also enhance social mobility and diversity of the sector.

Liz Field is chief executive of Financial Skills Partnership

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