Closing the Skills Gap in Financial Services
The future success of the financial services industry is going to be heavily reliant on business leaders, HR and L&D managers working well together to find innovative ways to address the current global skills gap in our sector. More so than ever before, as a direct result of this current pandemic, financial businesses are in the spotlight and need to show that they can and are willing to invest in their people to create operational resilience, drive maximum efficiency and build growth.
As part of their investment strategies, it is crucial for firms to demonstrate that they are good corporate citizens by hiring new talent that is truly representative of their customers, drawn from a wide range of diverse backgrounds and from across all sectors of society. One of the cornerstones for firms to actively address the skills shortage and close this gap is to take a closer look at their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.
The Vital Link between CSR and Employability
Financial services firms need to put effective CSR programmes in place now to ensure that young people can develop exactly the right mix of skills they need to not only obtain access to future employment opportunities in our sector, but can secure key entry positions in this industry that will lead to successful, rewarding careers in their chosen profession.
The real problem is that our schools and universities are extremely dedicated to helping students acquire the knowledge and skills they need in specialist financial areas over a fixed term as part of an academic course, but employability skills often fall outside of their expertise, or there is a gap between the skills they teach and the need in business. However, we can’t look to mainstream education to provide what businesses need. The reason for this is that these institutions are often too disconnected from the day-to-day evolution of skills that the corporate sector demands for continued success. Neither, should they bear the brunt of the work. It’s up to our firms to look beyond the obvious – all companies should work to exponentially build the talent pool, adding to it through investment of resources (such as financial investment programmes, volunteer initiatives and in-kind giving schemes) rather than just taking from it, as financial services firms are so often accused of doing by industry observers.
The challenge is that Government funding for such employment and education schemes is currently very limited. There are many young people that desperately need and deserve our support, but there simply isn’t enough money to go around to help those furthest from the job market develop the right mix of skills and employability to gain the correct levels of access to entry level training or junior roles that will allow them to contribute positively to society.
We need to do much more as firms to address these sectors of society and the people are vast in type from ex-offenders and those trying to escape gang culture to young carers, who have been so busy looking after others that their own schooling has been left behind. Refugees, the homeless, women, those with mental health issues and physical disabilities…the list goes on and the reasons given for the lack of opportunities are lengthy. Banks such as Santander, with its recently launched, Employ Autism Higher Education Network and Barclays…