Career choices widen for young people but many still stick to conventional routes into work

As students across the country receive their A-Level results, there is still a tendency for them to consider university as their only option to progress in their careers. The Financial Skills Partnership is calling on students to broaden their horizons and consider the increasing number of alternative routes that lead to professional careers.

A recent survey of 17 and 18-year-olds carried out by the Financial Skills Partnership and Careers Academies UK found that there is a widespread lack of awareness and misunderstanding of apprenticeships, school leaver programmes and tuition fees. As a result, young people are making ill-informed decisions about their futures.

Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership, said, “We find ourselves in a worrying situation whereby although the number of routes into professional careers is increasing, there isn’t enough being done to ensure that the nation’s young people know about them. Careers such as those in financial services require specialist skills but those skills can be acquired in various ways. In the 21st century learning landscape, university should be considered as just one of a number of routes into the profession.”

An increasing number of employers in the financial services sector have either created or expanded their school-leaver programmes, usually for post A-Level, or equivalent qualification entry. Meanwhile, the Government has placed an increasing emphasis on apprenticeships by investing £500m over this parliament with a particular focus on 16 to 19-year-olds and on higher level apprenticeships. Despite this, advice given to young people is largely biased towards degree learning.

Liz continued, “Students need to widen their options but in order for them to do so, they need to be guided by advisers who appreciate the fact that the lay of the land has changed in terms of modern jobs and careers. Government, employers and educators should all take the responsibility of developing talent by embracing the breadth of opportunities that are already starting to benefit the next generation of workers.”

Case study

Financial Skills Partnership has taken on its first Apprentice and already he is confident that the experience will provide a valuable launchpad into a successful career.

Greg Thompson, 18, from Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex, has joined FSP on a year-long apprenticeship as an Education and Careers Assistant. Between his first and second years at college, he also took part in a six week internship at Citigroup.

He said, “I originally came across FSP at a Career Academies conference. I researched them on LinkedIn and found the apprenticeship details posted there. My father is an accountant and so my interest in finance started from there and it has become my passion because it’s easy to see the impact that money has on everyday life. When I found out I would be involved with social media, I was excited by the prospect.

“I am enjoying my apprenticeship because at FSP, everyone’s work is interlinked so I get the opportunity to work with everyone. Even in my first week, I was helping to organise events – making sure everyone was contacted and that final preparations were made. From my time at FSP, as well as my internship at Citigroup, I have gained an understanding of business and finance that I can build upon.”