Growing options to help young people take next step

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THE Financial Skills Partnership is calling on students from Northern Ireland to broaden their horizons and consider the increasing number of alternative routes that lead to professional careers.

A recent survey of 17 and 18-year-olds carried out by the Financial Skills Partnership and Careers Academies UK found that there is a widespread lack of awareness and misunderstanding of apprenticeships, school leaver programmes and tuition fees. As a result, young people are making ill-informed decisions about their futures.

Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership, said: “We find ourselves in a worrying situation whereby although the number of routes into professional careers is increasing, there isn’t enough being done to ensure that the nation’s young people know about them. Careers such as those in financial services require specialist skills but those skills can be acquired in various ways. In the 21st century learning landscape, university should be considered as just one of a number of routes into the profession.”

An increasing number of employers in the financial services sector have either created or expanded their school-leaver programmes, usually for post A-Level, or equivalent qualification entry. Meanwhile, the Government has placed an increasing emphasis on apprenticeships by investing £500m over this parliament with a particular focus on 16 to 19-year-olds and on higher level apprenticeships. Despite this, advice given to young people is largely biased towards degree learning.

Liz continued: “Students from Northern Ireland need to widen their options, but in order for them to do so they need to be guided by advisers who appreciate the fact that the lay of the land has changed in terms of modern jobs and careers. Government, employers and educators should all take the responsibility of developing talent by embracing the breadth of opportunities that are already starting to benefit the next generation of workers.”

For more information log on to www.financialskillspartnerships.org.uk