Banks ‘invest’ in more than 1,500 apprentices

Three high street banks are launching new apprenticeship schemes to try and help young people launch a career in the financial services sector.

HSBC, Barclays and Santander announced they will be creating more than 1,500 places at a financial services sector round table held in Canary Wharf during National Apprenticeship Week.

Skills minister John Hayes said: “I am delighted that these banks are investing in apprenticeships which will help them secure the high-quality skills they need to create economic growth and provide new pathways to excellence for the brightest and best young people.”

Barclays is launching an apprenticeship scheme in April which will create 1,000 apprenticeship places for new employees only.

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is led to believe that the programme will be delivered by Elmfield Training, which claims to be the “fastest growing” vocational training provider in the UK.

It is also understood that Barclays will be contributing to the cost of training for all apprentices aged 19 and above.

“Barclays is providing the cost of training as well as the salaries, to make it clear that we are not deducting the cost of training from salaries or asking for a contribution in kind to cover those costs,” the spokesperson said.

“There is SFA money available to support apprenticeship training, but for those apprentices who are aged 19 or over Barclays will be providing funding.”

The spokesperson for Barclays added: “We want to support young people who don’t have existing qualifications and experience.

“So we are providing a full salary, and covering the additional training costs on top.”

Apprentices at Barclays will complete a framework in providing financial services and work towards a BTEC award in customer service, as well as qualifications in numeracy and literacy.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has emphasised that large employers are expected to contribute towards the cost of training.

A BIS spokesperson said:  “Large employers contribute towards the cost of apprenticeships.

“Those with over 1,000 employees have a 25 per cent rate reduction for 19+ apprenticeships and are expected to contribute 50 per cent towards all 19-24 and 25+ apprenticeships.

“Depending on the delivery model, the NAS will negotiate further reductions to ensure that larger employers make significant contributions towards the cost of apprenticeships.”

HSBC, the first high street bank to launch an apprenticeship scheme last year, has a direct contract with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and has promised to take on an extra 688 apprentices by the end of 2012.

The scheme, which offers apprenticeships in business administration, customer service and providing financial services, is only open for existing employees.

John Morewood, head of apprenticeships at HSBC, told FE Week: “People apply for an existing role with us and then we move them onto an apprenticeship – so we pay them the going rate for the actual job, we don’t change that. There’s this argument that if you put someone in an apprenticeship you only need to pay them a minimum wage, we don’t do that, they’re qualified to have a job with us, so we pay them the normal rate for that actual job.”

He added: “What we are then looking at, and again this is something for the future, is how we can enhance the apprenticeship framework. We’re looking at what additional things can we add in there from, say, our existing training.”

Santander is planning a programme for up to 50 apprentices, but is yet to decide on a third-party training provider.