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Widening Participation and Improving Standards on the Investment Agenda

The Securities and Investment Institute (SII) has been delighted by the success of the pilot period of its new qualification for the Investment industry, the “Introduction to Investment” Award.

The pilots have been completed and seem set to be rolled out on a grander scale in colleges and Further Education institutions. The programme is aimed at giving many students who would traditionally be excluded both by themselves and by conventional educational models the opportunity to get a taste for the investments world and then decide whether or not to move on into employment in the field.

Meeting Skills Demands in a Professional Body

The SII is the largest and most widely respected professional body for those who work in the securities and investment industry in the UK. Formed as the “Securities Institute” in 1992 by the members of the London Stock Exchange the Institute changed its name in November 2004 ““ one senior executive for the company expressed his own personal sense of achievement at this, as it laid to rest any lingering misapprehensions that the company was responsible for personal safety!

The SII is committed to widening the opportunities for all people to enter the workplace better equipped and is recognised as an Awarding Body by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). There are over 16,000 members and what is more the SII attracts more than 30,000 candidates a year looking for relevant vocational training.

Furthermore, as a professional body, the skills and training provided are coordinated with senior figures in the Securities and Investments marketplace, thus ensuring that the courses are both relevant and up to date. The board of the SII meet regularly to painstakingly examine the qualification on offer to ensure that it is the best and most relevant possible for those looking to gain some early insight into the industry. As a registered charity, one of its main aims is “to promote, for the public benefit, the advancement and dissemination of knowledge in the field of securities and investments”.

The Course

The “Introduction to Investment” Award has been carefully developed over a period of time to meet the requirements of people who are new to the industry and want to learn more. It is not dependent on their experience or past work history, and provides a basic overall perspective on the field of investments. It is fully recognised as a foundation qualification leading to employment and is regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

The benefits extend to all concerned. Apart from offering the obvious benefits to students of expanding skills sets and improving employment prospects, colleges also have much to gain. More students can be attracted to a college offering this potential solution to employment entry, many of whom would not have considered the college prior to this course. It provides a relevant professional qualification regulated both by the QCA and the National Qualification Framework, but also by the students” potential employers within the sector.

Vital Contribution to Development for the UK

The Managing Director of the SII, Ruth Martin, was keen to stress the important role that this ambitious and innovative project has to play. “This is an important national project which we believe will open access to non-traditional audiences who might not otherwise have thought about working in the world of financial services. It meets the needs of those without any particular degree level qualification and those without experience in the industry,” she said.

Successful pilots have already been carried out at The Community College, Hackney; Tower Hamlets College; Westminster Kingsway College; Havering College; and Kingston Management Centre. In Hackney, the first sitting of the qualification resulted in an impressive 82% pass rate with students from all backgrounds, which saw the Head of the Business School Tony Pamphilion say: “We are very proud of the results achieved by the first group to sit the new qualification”¦We will be helping this group to decide their next step if they now wish to work towards a career in the financial services industry.”

Ruth Martin stressed the importance of this project as it expands beyond the pilot stage and enters more colleges across the nation: “The project involves FE colleges throughout the UK, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) (and the London Development Agency [LDA] in London), the QCA, the NQF and our member employers in the sector. We will work towards helping colleges provide a stepping stone for their candidates into the world of work.”

Jethro Marsh

Should other market areas learn from the SII’s example? Call for change in the FE Blog

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