Higher apprenticeships will draw a new generation of talent into finance, accounting and financial services

The fifth annual National Apprenticeship Week is about to begin. It is organised by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), runs from 6th to 10th February and looks set to be the biggest and best yet, with more than 500 events and activities planned across England, showcasing the talents, skills and commitment of apprentices to employers, teachers, parents, the general public and the media.

Liz Field, FSP’s CEO, comments: “At the Financial Skills Partnership, the financial sector’s skills council, we are well aware of the benefits that apprentices bring to business. Long gone are the days when apprentices could only be found in a blue-collar setting. Apprenticeships are already being used successfully in accountancy and in financial services. Now new-type higher apprenticeships will be opening up exciting new paths into the UK’s financial sector.”

“The current climate is far from rosy for young people today. Against a background of high youth unemployment, rising student fees and falling university applications, we are spreading the word that higher apprenticeships offer talented, ambitious and dedicated young people excellent alternative pathways into many of the professions involved. These allow them to obtain knowledge-based higher qualifications, while at the same time gaining invaluable on-the-job experience and earning a wage.

“Young people can find out about the opportunities available through FSP’s online careers portal Directions, which offers independent careers information on the financial sector including job profiles of most of the sector’s major roles, and links to employers currently offering work placements, internships and apprenticeships, as well as graduate traineeships.”

FSP is closely involved with two schemes which are developing higher apprenticeships. The first will initially offer 1,500 apprenticeships across tax, audit and consulting. It is a Professional Services Higher Apprenticeships Programme led by Price Waterhouse Coopers devised by a government-backed consortium of professional bodies representing chartered accountants, management consultants and taxation technicians with training providers BPP.
FSP has also been awarded government funding to help develop employer-led higher apprenticeship frameworks in banking and insurance, with an initial project creating 270 new vocational opportunities on par with the first year of a degree. Major employers are on board such as HSBC, who will be offering apprenticeship opportunities in a variety of roles within their branch network, call centres and operations areas.
Liz says: “FSP already works with major employers in the financial sector such as HSBC, Aviva, Barclays and Nationwide. We firmly believe more employers will see the benefits of having apprentices, including smaller employers who will be able to tap into the frameworks for higher apprenticeships currently being developed. These will help them attract the talent they need by offering valuable training to industry-recognized national standards.

“All this means that the financial sector is playing its part in NAS’ and the government’s Million Extra campaign started in February 2011, which aims to have one million people start an apprenticeship by summer 2013, and just as in 2011, we expect to see financial sector employers amongst the nominations for the NAs and City & Guilds Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers Awards. In uncertain economic times, apprenticeships are an all-round good news story, and its positive impact on UK businesses and young people alike is set to grow and grow. “