Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy – A strategic response to the financial services skills crisis

According to recent studies by the Professional & Business Services Council and the Financial Services Skills Commission, an acceleration in automation and digitalisation, propelled by the evolution of global markets and shifting workforce demographics, are driving demand for new skills in all FS sectors. These new skills bring together technology, interpersonal skills and industry-specific knowledge, reflecting the realities and challenges of the 2023 landscape and beyond.

The research suggests that annual output across the sector would be 12% higher if skills gaps were plugged, equivalent to £38bn annually by 2038. Firms already report increased operating costs and staff workload as a result of skills challenges. The report concludes failure to act could leave the UK losing out to its global competitors.

Leading Financial Services organisations have strategically used the apprenticeship levy and training budget to address some of the biggest skills challenges facing the industry. Senior leaders and Learning & Development teams who have innovated through integrating the levy into their talent strategies have successfully driven digital transformation, increased diversity and empowered senior leaders to drive business performance.

Corndel recently held a panel discussion with Learning & Development and Talent leads from UBS, Société Générale and Standard Chartered to share valuable insight on how levy-funded workplace training can transform productivity, culture and employee retention.

Tackling Accidental Managers

Research suggests that managers who haven’t received any management training are 36 percent more likely to leave their current jobs in the next year, than managers who receive regular management training. Untrained managers can also result in a 16% drop in productivity.

We know that in the UK there are 2.4 million accidental managers – managers who were promoted into leadership roles without any skills training to support them. Do you think having people in Leadership and Management apprenticeships helps to bridge the knowledge gap?

One of the issues we face at UBS and that many organisations are facing is a lack of training for middle managers, those who do their job well and become managers by default without training or experience in people management. We are developing a range of alternative leadership programmes, for people at different points in their careers (across levels 3, 5 and 7 of the Regulated Qualifications Framework). We recognise that people come into a leadership position in various stages of their career. We are lucky that the range of levels allows us to offer management programmes to everyone, from those in entry level positions to those strategic leaders.
Louise Dell, UBS

Data Literacy

The Top Priorities for Finance Leaders report by Gartner claims that there is a critical skills gap in data literacy within the Financial Services sector, potentially costing a business 1% of its revenue as a result. There is a pressing need for data literacy to sit horizontally across multiple job roles in an organisation, rather than a vertical, top-down structure where only few have the right capabilities.

What’s the impact of upskilling existing colleagues in becoming more data-driven/data literate?

Like most companies, we have been talking about data for some time, knowing that it is a key future skill. In terms of data analytics and the level 4 Business Analyst apprenticeship programme, what has really been attractive is the individuals who work with data every day but aren’t necessarily data analysts. They were spending lots of time sending data sets to analytics teams all over the world. Analytics teams were overwhelmed, and we were waiting three days or more to get data back. We realised that upskilling team members, we would minimise the need to send this work to another team. There are certain jobs in financial services that we don’t anticipate existing in 5 to 10 years. Being able to upskill people in data analytics makes their jobs right now more efficient, whilst also giving them the opportunity to look at data based roles in the future.
Amy Holland, Standard Chartered
With the apprenticeships that we offer we are able to create learning opportunities at all levels, from school leavers to Managing Directors. There are so many skills needed to learn to be competitive and relevant in the world of data. Apprenticeships allow us to upskill and transform employees in their current roles to create the workforce of the future. This also helps with talent attraction and retention and helps us to remain progressive in this new world.
Louise Dell, UBS

Building A Diverse Workforce

Recent research by Refinitiv found that globally, cultural diversity on boards has gone up by 30% in the last five years. However, there’s still a lack in Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) diversity in financial services.

Refinitiv’s research shows that there has been an increase in women and ethnic minorities working in the sector over the last year. But the boardroom still lacks diversity.

How has the apprenticeship levy supported your diversity and inclusion initiatives?

We were looking at ways to use the levy and identified a gap in the make-up, most of the bank are white, middle aged and male. We created a graduate programme, utilising the levy to give these individuals qualifications. Most importantly we targeted non Russell group universities, something that was new for us. Traditionally most managers wanted employees from the top universities, however, we challenged them on this, to give a chance to people who are not from a top university. It’s been great to prove those managers wrong and to recruit brilliant people from different backgrounds and give them an additional qualification.
Dimitriya Valkova, Societe Generale

Achieving Buy in

How do you create a cultural shift that allows room to recognise that apprenticeships are the best solution in obtaining more in-depth skills development?

We have ambassadors on programmes across all levels, from Assistant Director to MD, which is a fantastic spectrum to showcase those real stories back to the business. It’s also important to look at how you use the word apprenticeship. We run the programmes as the UK Development Programmme. People do have a stigma around the word apprenticeship and that’s something to explore further. We looked at the skills gap vs what we could do as a standalone professional qualification vs what we can do with the levy, and it’s great to see how quickly people come on board once their understanding of an apprenticeship shifts.
Amy Holland, Standard Chartered