From education to employment

Ceremony at Mansion House Brings out the Best in Financial Service Education

A line of glittering chandeliers sparkled overhead as the senior figures of the Securities and Investments Institute (SII) gathered to celebrate the achievements of a group of outstanding learners last night.

Joining the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of London, Alderman David Brewer, were Scott Dobie, Chairman of the SII, Sir David Howard, Chairman of Charles Stanley and Co. Ltd. and Chairman of the SII Examination Board, Hector Sants, MD of Wholesale and Institutional Markets from the FSA, and Ruth Martin, the MD of the SII. They brought together senior representatives of the industry to applaud the success of the learners for the year just ended.

Stretching a Long Way

After guiding the assemblage into the Egyptian Hall at the prestigious Mansion House building, kindly opened to the ceremony by the Lord Mayor of London, Scott Dobie gave a brief introduction before welcoming Sir David Howard to the podium. He spoke of the success of the awards and, before handing the microphone over to the Lord Mayor for a brief comment, he made certain that all those assembled could appreciate the scale of the success.

Speaking of the numbers of learners participating in various SII schemes, he said that there were some 33,000 students studying under SII auspices at various levels during 2005. He made this clearly comprehensible to the audience by saying that, if they tried to fit everyone into the Egyptian Hall who was currently studying, they could fill it many times over, and would require so many Egyptian Halls that they would stretch from Mansion House all the way to Covent Garden if laid end to end!

The Winner is”¦.FE!

One of the awards given went to Nilay Singh, who achieved the highest mark in the SII’s newest qualification, the “Introduction to Investment” Award. This qualification is designed to drive forward standards and open financial service career opportunities to traditional excluded communities through offering a broad and basic introductory certificate in Further Education Colleges. The scheme has been such a notable success in initial pilots that it is set to be rolled out on a national scale in the coming months.

Mr. Singh spoke to FE News following the ceremony, and was clearly pleased with the qualification. He was out of work for a year after finding it difficult to make the breakthrough into the sector, and his eyes were opened to the potential of this qualification at an exhibition on careers in Canary Wharf. Looking ahead, he expects to continue to work his way through the SII qualification ladder to become as highly trained and skilled as possible.

It may appear that the financial services sector is hardly one for which FE is ideally suited. But, as the Director of Business Development and Employer Engagement for Hackney Community College Chris Yiannakou pointed out, the firms in the financial services sector of the City are starting to open their eyes and their arms to previously excluded communities through necessity, to gain the best trained staff and remain at the competitive forefront of the market.

When first presented with the proposal ““ Hackney College were one of the venues for the scheme’s pilot run ““ he confesses to “looking for the “but”. It appears that, to date, there is no catch; just a steadily growing level of skills provision, of widening participation and of high achievement, exemplified by the winners yesterday.

The SII’s new award meets this challenge, bringing more people the opportunity to succeed in a previously forbidden sector. The interaction of a professional body, business, and the FE college sector is a shining example of success, and could offer a valuable lesson for other areas of the marketplace.

Jethro Marsh

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