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Stephen shines spotlight on varied financial services careers during virtual Moray talk

By Alan Beresford

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THE wide and varied opportunities available to young people in the financial services sector took centre stage at a Moray virtual talk.

HSBC employee communications manager Stephen Friel.
HSBC employee communications manager Stephen Friel.

Organised by Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Moray, the session was hosted by Glasgow-based Stephen Friel, who is the employee communications manager for HSBC UK. Mr Friel was taking part in the talk as part of Scottish Financial Enterprise's (SFE) Unified Schools Programme (USP) which aims to encourage young people to explore potential careers available within Financial Services.

The Moray youngsters involved in the recent session rose to the occasion, Mr Friel said.

"I talked a bit about my own experiences and how I came to join the financial services sector. I dropped out of university and was lost in my career journey for quite a few years.

"There are a lot of routes that can take you into the industry including work experience/internships and entry level roles, you don't necessarily have to go the graduate route. There are also a wide variety of roles you can move to once in, which really attracts young adults.”

"The Q&A session we had afterwards was fantastic, the young people certainly weren't scared to speak out which was great. Most of the questions related to getting into the industry but there were others asking about opportunities to travel, day-to-day aspects of a job in the industry and also what they could do if they didn't like the job they were in.

"I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Sarah Baxter and her team at DYW Moray who were phenomenal in driving forward the event."

Mr Friel went on to say that one of the key challenges for financial services is reaching young people who might not know anything about the industry unless they have a family member working in it, but once they take part in a SFE USP session and hear about the range of jobs available and different pathways, like apprenticeships, they are enthused and keen to find out more.

Looking ahead to when the current Covid restrictions are finally lifted, Mr Friel added: "When that point comes we're looking to get back to doing person-to-person sessions.

"Virtual resources have proved valuable in reaching as many people as possible, and we will continue to offer them, but we also want to get out there and also get young people into our workplaces.

"They've got energy, they're willing to learn and work hard, and many of them have skills they never realised they had.

"We want to ensure that young people don’t get left behind as a result of the Covid pandemic."

The impact of Covid on Scotland's young people was not lost on Scottish Financial Enterprise chief executive Sandy Begbie said: “Scotland’s financial services industry is committed to being inclusive and creating opportunities for young people from all backgrounds.

"We employ more than 160,000 people in Scotland and there are jobs to suit all skills and interests. Prior to Covid, the industry was going through an exciting transition where new jobs were being created thanks to technology and, from what we can tell, the pandemic has sped up this transition.

“Scottish Financial Enterprise set up the Unified Skills Programme to inspire young people and encourage them to explore the extensive range of careers available. The programme also explains the various pathways for young people to enter the industry such as apprenticeships, graduate placements and entry level roles.

"It was also set up to further improve inclusion by attracting young people from all backgrounds to work in financial services.

“There’s no doubt young people have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and SFE is absolutely committed to breaking down barriers and helping them reach their potential. My ambition for SFE USP is for every school in Scotland to have access to our resources so we can inspire and give opportunities to more young people as we recover from the pandemic.

“As well as the Unified Schools Programme, SFE is also supporting the Young Person’s Guarantee which aims to give every 16-24-year-old in Scotland the chance to succeed through the opportunity of a job, apprenticeship, training, further education or volunteering.”

DYW Moray programme manager Sarah Baxter was left impressed by both the response to the virtual session and what Mr Friel had to say.

"The event went really well and Stephen was very inspiring," she continued.

"It was great that the young people could relate to his experience, being still quite young himself.

"Throughout the past year, given the current circumstances, DYW Moray have been actively creating more virtual opportunities like this event for young people to be inspired about career pathways, subject choices, apprenticeships and more.

"We have a vast array of pre-recorded inspirational content on our YouTube Channel from local and national organisations. The session with Stephen was even better as the young people were able to ask him questions there and then which allowed him to tailor his advice even more to our Moray young people."

For further information on how your school can take advantage of SFE USP, please email USP@sfe.org.uk or visit sfe.org.uk

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