With this month’s youth unemployment figures set to hit the one million mark and private sector growth slowing once more, the spotlight is once again on apprenticeships. There is also mounting press-ure on companies to retain existing talent and encourage new talent to come in.
HSBC has announced that it is set to join our apprentice-ship scheme, which will initially provide nationally recognised qualifications to around 1,000 of its employees.
This is a big step forward for our sector in terms of growth, recovery and the rejuvenation of our ageing workforce. It is one classic example of the work we do on behalf of many similar employers, giving measured and impartial advice on how best to make the most of the existing talent within our sector. Many financial services profess-ionals would like to gain access to further develop-mental training as a way of both improving their career prospects and increasing value to their employer.
The Government is actively encouraging financial and professional services firms to set up such schemes. Apprenticeships should prove attractive to people who have not had the benefit of a university education, including school leavers who want to gain qualifications in a profession but do not want to go to university.
They are also a vital tool for employers wishing to maxi-mise their existing talent, and for employees who want to improve career prospects.
The Financial Skills Partnership believes it is vital to work closely with employers to assist more people within the financial sector wanting to develop their skills and consequently improve their prospects for promotion within their organisation.
In order to make the sector more competitive and preserve the UK’s position as one of the financial centres of the world, employers need to invest in their staff by providing easy access to the relevant skills and training required to progress themselves within the company. When surveyed, more than two-thirds of employees in the sector felt the need to improve their skills and would like to have access to the vocational training offered by appren-ticeship programmes.
The competitiveness of the British economy is dependent upon harnessing the talents of a rich and diverse talent pool across the UK. The onus is on businesses and education training providers to be more creative and flexible with jobseekers.
The Financial Skills Partnership has also worked in a similar way with Axa Insurance to develop the prospects of existing staff. Axa allowed apprentices to continue in their current jobs while receiving additional training and support from City College Norwich.
Axa apprentices follow- ing this programme have typically achieved their first qualification within around 18 months, allowing them to earn money while learning on a flexible basis. All study and exam costs are covered by the company.
The FSP sees this as a great way of developing people within a financial services business.
Liz Field is chief executive of the Financial Skills Partnership