The Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme (WFSGP) is a collaborative 2 year full-time programme of work, training and academic study unique to Wales, designed and delivered by leading financial services organisations to develop a talent pool of industry professionals.
The Financial & Professional Services sector is one of nine Welsh Government key priority sectors in Wales. In 2013, it was identified as the priority sector with the largest number of employee jobs – 138,400*. A significant proportion of these jobs are in large organisations and the WFGSP was designed to address two key issues within the sector: high staff turnover and talent retention.
The WFGSP project is intended to tackle both of these issues. Partly funded by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government, the programme is managed by the Welsh Contact Centre Forum. At April 2016, participating employers include Admiral, Atradius, GM Financial, Julian Hodge Bank, Composite Legal Expenses, Finance Wales, Optimum Credit, Grant Thornton, Principality BS and the BBC Finance Centre of Excellence. The MSc Financial Services delivery is at the University of South Wales.
The Programme is designed to offer talented young professionals a reason to stay in the region and to strengthen the growing position of Cardiff and south-east Wales as a location of choice in the financial services field, the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme combines studying a Masters degree in Financial Services Management with invaluable on-the-job training with some of Wales’ biggest employers in the sector.
Since its launch in 2015, a total of 40 graduates have embarked on the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme. Six of these have already secured permanent roles in the sector with leading organisations Finance Wales, Julian Hodge Bank and Atradius.
Professor Julie Lydon OBE, University of South Wales Vice-Chancellor, said: “As a University founded for the needs of the professions, we’re delighted to be working with these major partners in the sector to train the next generation of leading financial services professionals.
“It’s a powerful combination of academic expertise and professional understanding that will stand them in good stead for the future.”
The graduate scheme was developed in a bid to develop a talent pool of graduates in response to rapid growth in the sector in Wales. In 2015 the number of financial services firms in Wales rose by 11.2%, and it has emerged that Cardiff is currently the fastest growing city in the UK in terms of job creation, with the financial and professional services sectors being key drivers of that growth.
This current Programme is based upon the success of a pilot programme. Twenty graduates were recruited to the pilot programme by a consortium of four employers. All 20 graduates from this first cohort obtained their MSc Financial Services Management and graduated in December 2015, eight of them with ‘Distinction’. 17 of them secured permanent employment with a financial services company in south-east Wales. One of the student projects carried out as part of the course assessment, the development of an innovative insurance product, is about to be launched to the market by the employing organisation.
Shailja Tewart is one of the new tranche of participating trainees. Originally from India, Shailja has lived in Cardiff since she was 12, but left Wales to study for a degree in accounting and management at the University of Reading. Following her graduation, she found out about the graduate scheme from one of the participating companies – Cardiff Bay based Atradius – and was drawn back to Wales.
With aspirations of becoming a Chartered Accountant, Shailja’s placements with some of Wales’s leading financial services companies will allow her to gain a thorough understanding of the administrative process, underlying the practice of accountancy and to gain essential insights into the fundamental aspects of running an accountancy practice.
“I applied for the scheme because it provides academic studies as well as work placements in such reputable companies. I’ll be able to enhance the skills I’ve learned in the past few years in University and put all of the theory into practice,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to the practical side of the programme – gaining work experience is such a crucial part of the business sector nowadays. I’ll be putting into practice all the theory I have learned in the classroom and learning how to deal with real-life situations in the industry.
“The thought of completing a Masters at the same time really appeals to me. Knowing that at the end of the scheme I will have achieved another qualification is a real added benefit.”
If you want to find out more about the scheme, or if you are a financial services businesses interested in joining the consortium, contact Rowena O’Sullivan on 02920 824022 or email Rowena.O’Sullivan@atradius.com.
*Source: Welsh Government Priority sector statistics, 2015 – June 2015