Initiative highlighting financial services as career set for take-off

Plans are under way to launch what is billed as Scotland’s first nationwide schools programme for financial services, which aims to support thousands of young people a year from a range of backgrounds.

Olivia Boath and Nathan McEwan, who took part in the pilot scheme. Picture: Chris Watt.

The move follows two years of planning and the completion of a successful pilot in Edinburgh involving companies including Baillie Gifford, Nucleus Financial and Standard Life Aberdeen.

The SFE Financial Services Unified Schools Programme, run by Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) in partnership with Developing the Young Workforce and Skills Development Scotland, was established to encourage and inspire school pupils to consider and explore the career opportunities offered by financial services.

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The pilot took place in November and saw six high-school pupils partnered with financial services firms based in the Scottish capital, also including BlackRock, HSBC, and Lloyds Banking Group.

The first two days were spent in the firms’ offices, and on the third and final day, participants worked with a film crew from Edinburgh College and information technology consultancy Sopra Steria to create a video of their experience.

It is hoped that the programme will more than double the number of participants next year and expand into Glasgow, with the long-term aim to support up to 5,000 young people through the programme right across Scotland annually.

SFE chief executive Graeme Jones said great effort has gone into ensuring that the programme can provide first-hand experience and show the variety of “world-class career opportunities available on the pupils’ doorsteps”.

He added: “As the landscape of financial services evolves rapidly, we need a step-change in the diversity of our workforce to ensure we connect with the needs of customers. Our ambition is to inspire school pupils from all corners of Scotland, and all backgrounds, to help us innovate and improve the financial well-being of society.”

Skills minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Scotland’s financial services sector is vitally important to the future of the Scottish economy. That is why the Scottish Government, through Developing the Young Workforce and Skills Development Scotland, are delighted to support the Scottish Financial Enterprise United Schools Programme, which is providing young people with first-hand experience of the sector and helping better prepare them for the world of work.”

He also stated that such opportunities help young people “to make an informed choice that will lead them to a rewarding career.”

Colin Halpin, SFE board director, Unified Schools project lead and HSBC director, said: “This programme has not only created a unique experience for the six young people who took part – but it has showcased the power of collaboration.

“With half of the pilot group now considering a career in financial services, compared with none at the beginning, this offers a strong test case to explore what can be achieved on a larger scale.

“If we can inspire more of Scotland’s school pupils to consider a job in financial services our industry, economy and wider society stands to benefit.”