For school leavers interested in a career in finance, Apprenticeships offer a real alternative to university. For example, insurance and accountancy Apprenticeships are available at levels 2, 3 and 4 (equivalent to GCSE and HND level), with the opportunity to study at higher level later on.

Steven Poss is Development Specialist at the Financial & Legal Skills Partnership (FLSP), an organisation which supports the development of a skilled workforce in the UK’s financial, finance and accountancy sectors. “What makes financial Apprenticeships a good alternative to university is that they lead to recognised professional qualifications in the sector and provide an alternative route for those talented young people who are attracted to vocational training and employment,” he says. “The other bonus is that the apprentice gains real experience from day one. They will learn key skills about their role — but an Apprenticeship also equips them with self-management skills, so they learn to be independent, get into a daily working routine and manage their lifestyles.”

Opportunities

There are various channels school-leavers can use to keep tabs on financial Apprenticeship opportunities, including FLSP's Directions website and the main National Apprenticeship Service website. Plus, Apprenticeship applicants can go directly to the employers' websites and to the websites of the industry's professional bodies to research opportunities at source.

Financial Apprenticeships aren't just good for trainees. They're also good for businesses and for UK PLC (where youth unemployment is high). Many companies — including SME's — see the wisdom in providing Apprenticeships in finance as an innovative way to replenish their workforces. 

“I've been working with a company where the majority of underwriters are 40-plus,” says Poss. “That means there is the potential they will lose a lot of experience in a short timescale, simply through retirement. This is a major issue – and one which the company is addressing in part by creating two Apprenticeship programmes. One of these is a fast-track Apprenticeship that recruits A-level students and then rotates them around the business where they learn from senior staff. That's a good way to keep experience and know-how within the company.”