Andreas Karaiskos, CEO, Fitch Learning

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 LifeSkills partnerships, are thankfully leading the way to create fairer opportunities for some of these young people to gain the skills necessary to compete for jobs.

The Right Future Workforce - Tackling Unconscious Bias

The Financial Services Commission, an independent industry-led commission, is working hard with the UK Financial Services Sector to ensure that it has the talent and skills it needs for the future. It is bringing together industry, government and the education sector to overcome the sector’s skills gap and increase the recruitment and retention of a more diverse workforce, but much more still needs to done to get the right blend and balance of employees in place at firms from the start to make a real difference in practice.

Fitch Learning held an industry-wide event recently, Minds & Machines – The Road Back! Addressing the Skills Gap in Financial Services, which threw a real spotlight on the skills gaps in the existing workforce that need resolution, and uncovered some of the most pressing CSR and upskilling issues that the financial services industry needs to address during the next decade and beyond. An Insights Report summarising the key findings is going to be published shortly and will be available on our website.

Recently publicly available research from PWC also shows that upskilling is imperative for financial services firms now, because the industry is changing so rapidly that we must build the right skills for our organisations to continue to compete in the future. However, it’s crucial for firms to recruit the right range of talent for change both now and in the future to get the best out of people, and some experts have highlighted the risks of ‘unconscious bias’ in job interviews. Simply put, many employers may still be basing their hiring decisions on factors other than who is best for the job rather than adopting an all-inclusive approach.

The Role of CSR in Business Today

CSR has a key role to play in business today and firms need to ensure that both their senior leaders and employees are adopting inclusive mindsets and can actively demonstrate these behaviours. By hiring employees from different perspectives and backgrounds from the start financial services firms can add real value to their businesses in the longer term.

Millennials and incoming Generation Z employees are looking to their employers to add more value to their lives than more established, traditional hires. Today’s new joiners and incoming Generation Alpha school leavers, apprentices and graduates will all want to see flourishing CSR programmes investing into the community, supporting and upskilling those from less privileged backgrounds, and offering equal access to opportunities, so it isn’t just good for society tomorrow to boost skills and increase equality, it’s also good for business today.

ESG is Transforming the Financial Services Industry

Covid-19 is currently rewriting the rules for good corporate governance and offering a great opportunity for financial services firms to implement CSR strategies that can bring a renewed sense of purpose and connection for their current and future employees, customers and shareholders. This is because the focus on racial inequality and social injustice brought to the fore during the pandemic has placed a stronger emphasis on exactly what it means to be a good corporate citizen.  The ability to meet governance business imperatives is also directly impacting upon the goodwill value of every firm’s reputation.

An industry commentator recently said that Millennials are interested in using investment as a vehicle to produce wealth and a positive impact to society. This is different to traditional thinking and is already playing out in the form of ESG, CSR and impact investing initiatives. So, many more learning initiatives and education programmes need to be put in place to empower and educate disadvantaged young people about investment and ESG, such as The BVCA & Impetus Partnership.  Fitch Learning has started to offer a one day certificate course in The Fundamentals of ESG Investing this year as part of its ongoing commitment to educating young financial professionals.

Representative Role Models

Young people from all walks of life who are entering the financial services industry also need positive role models to look up to as part of their education influencers with similar backgrounds, and mentors with likeminded attitudes.

However, according to recent research from Ruebik and Operation Black Vote, there are no black executive directors in FTSE 100 financial services firms, and a recent article in the FT also cited that more work needs to be done to level the race playing field.

When it comes to gender, the recent Women in Financial Services report 2020 by Oliver Wyman found that the industry is finally making progress on gender diversity in the workforce. Many firms are now actively evaluating the diversity of women’s experiences as part of their CSR programmes and top universities, such as Imperial College Business School are also running Women In Finance Master’s Programmes.

Discovering our Hidden Talents

Financial services firms will create big win-win opportunities for their employees, customers and shareholders if they can work in tandem with equal opportunity policy makers, educational institutions and the government to create an inspiring variety of education schemes and training initiatives now for young school leavers and graduates now as part of their CSR programmes.

Our businesses need to be more committed to catering for people from a much wider range of diverse and currently under-represented backgrounds if we are going to get the balance just right in our future workforces. At Fitch, we have put in place a Young Learners Series for 2020/21 to encourage young people to gain exactly the right blend of insights from experienced professionals and information they need to find a career in the financial services sector. Our latest webinar, Young Learners: Making the Right Choice – Apprenticeships for Schools Leavers will be held on Friday 20th November from 18:00 – 19:00pm.

If we can become more finely tuned and adopt an inclusive approach by putting in place the correct blend of knowledge, skills and competencies for every individual, then we will not only create a more level playing field,  but may well discover the hidden talents who will make the real difference for our future generations.

Kerry McNally, Head of CSR, The Fitch Group and Andreas Karaiskos, CEO, Fitch Learning

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 1 hour 35 minutes ago

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 1 hour 35 minutes ago

RT @NCFE: ‘For as long as humans have worked, and whatever industry they may have worked in, success has always been predicated on having t…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page