From education to employment

Professional services firms inspire over 15,000 students at careers festival launch

Professional services

Forward-thinking business, professional and financial services firms including PwC, HSBC, Arcadis and Pinsent Masons have joined forces with social enterprise Ahead Partnership to launch an exciting new careers and skills initiative. The programme is designed to build young people’s aspirations and support the sector’s talent pipeline and recovery across Greater Birmingham and Solihull.

The exciting, year-round Growing Talent in #BPFS programme is now well underway, with Ahead Partnership leading the delivery of virtual and pre-recorded activities enabling young people to get involved from home throughout lockdown, following the initiative’s successful November launch.

The initial launch festival brought together 760 students and 58 volunteers spanning 23 regional employers to engage in online activities from skills workshops to meet-the-employer events, while sign-ups for accessible digital resources indicate plans to continue facilitating sector learning with over 15,000 additional students.

Enabling aspirations in areas with opportunities – the regional value of BPFS is forecasted to double to £50bn over the next 10 years – the launch festival alone inspired 91% of students that provided feedback to say that they had increased awareness of different roles in the BPFS sector.

With lockdown continuing to impact the way that schools and employers operate, Ahead Partnership is now leading the ongoing activities for 2021 which include spotlight panels with a focus on women in professional services, apprenticeships and the various BPFS sectors; and Q&As on a range of roles in financial services. Key employer activities include the virtual delivery of the PwC Skills Academy; Capsticks virtual work experience; and HSBC’s Investing in Futures.

The timely initiative is made possible by important funding from Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, the CEC, Birmingham Enterprise Partnership and committed private sector employers.

Stephanie Burras CBE, Chief Executive of Ahead Partnership, said:

“We were delighted to see such a positive response from both keen students and committed volunteers that engaged in the launch of Growing Talent in #BPFS, and are now busy delivering this exciting programme.

“Initiatives that help inspire young people to look ahead, develop their skills and aspire to sectors with opportunities available are really crucial at this time.

“We welcome other forward-thinking businesses that want to show their support to get involved with this exciting year-long initiative, which is set to make a big impact on young people and the regional professional services sector.”

Spencer Wilson, Head of Skills at GBS LEP, said:

“The Growing Talent programme creates career pathways for young people into key roles within the Business, Professional and Financial Services sector; ensuring the talent pipeline for businesses, and career opportunities for young people exist in this key growth sector. Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP is proud to support Ahead Partnership in delivering this vital intervention that inspires our young people and supports our businesses.”

Tim Boyes, CEO of Birmingham Education Partnership, said:

“Helping young people to ready themselves for the world of work, raising aspirations, and opening their eyes to a world of possibilities is a key task for schools and college. To do this schools need deep connections with employers, and young people need to be able to see and feel what it is like to be in a workplace. Building on the experience of delivery of Professional Services Week in previous years “Growing Talent BPFS” exemplifies best practice, providing a range of great opportunities for young people to learn about the professional Services sector and what it takes to forge a successful career within it.”

The Ahead Partnership-led initiative follows four years of successful Professional Services Weeks across Birmingham, extending activity to an exciting year-round programme. From SMEs to global firms, businesses of all sizes are still welcome to join the impressive line-up of regional employers already committed to sponsoring valuable activities. For more information on getting involved in the exciting scheme, employers can visit

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