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Leading employers including ICAP, RBS, Macquarie Group, EY and many others, are taking part in a unique apprenticeship scheme to recruit new talent from a diverse range of backgrounds.

The blue chip companies will host work placements for up to 250 young people during 2016 and 2017 as part of a national programme organised by social mobility charity Leadership Through Sport & Business (LTSB).

Apprentices are drawn from a wide range of social and ethnic backgrounds and they will study for an academic qualification in accounting whilst receiving on-the-job training.

It is hoped that the scheme will offer huge benefits to employers as a recruitment channel at a time when companies seek to diversify their workforce to meet the requirements of the modern business environment.

“The successful companies of the future will be those that maintain a competitive edge by encouraging diversity in the workplace in order to reflect the changes that are taking place in their customer base and inwider society,” commented David Pinchin, chairman of LTSB.

The programme will include a pre-work training period during which LTSB and corporate partners will prepare apprentices for the corporate environment. They will also develop leadership skills through sports coaching with top football club foundations at Aston Villa, Chelsea, Leyton Orient and West Ham.