National schools programme on the books for Scotland's financial services

Following two years of planning and the completion of a successful pilot in Edinburgh plans are now underway to launch Scotland’s first nation-wide schools programme for financial services.

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

The pilot, which took place in November, saw six pupils (three from Newbattle High School and three from Queensferry Community High School) partnered with six financial services firms based in Edinburgh: Baillie Gifford, BlackRock, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nucleus Financial and Standard Life Aberdeen.

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

Although in the early stages of planning it is hoped the programme will more than double the number of participants next year and expand into Glasgow. The long-term aim is that the SFE Financial Services Unified Schools Programme will support up to 5,000 young people through the programme right across Scotland on an annual basis.

Graeme Jones, CEO of Scottish Financial Enterprise, said: “The SFE Financial Services Unified Schools Programme has been designed with great care to provide a first-hand experience of working in financial services and demonstrate the range of world-class career opportunities available on the pupils’ doorsteps. 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.

“These kinds of opportunities, which allow young people to experience what it is like to work, result in a better understanding of career pathways and supports young people to make an informed choice that will lead them to a rewarding career.

“Developing the Young Workforce has already achieved its goal to reduce youth unemployment by 40% four years ahead of schedule and remain committed strengthen partnerships across all sectors to sustain and build on this progress.”

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. By working closely with a range of stakeholders across industry, government and education the SFE Financial Services Unified Schools Programme has begun to shift the dial on the perception of financial services by young people.

“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.”