The 17th of April saw the latest of our Finance Sector Taster Days, this time delivered in the University of Essex’ Essex Business School at the Colchester campus. The day was particularly exciting as – for the first time ever – we combined our daytime Taster Day with a Finance sector recruitment event later that evening, this time aimed at working-age adults in Essex.
Amongst the tropical plants, water fountains and sunlight streaming through the windows, students from Manningtree High, Thurstable and Stanway School moved around the building between workshops delivered by DST (formerly IFDS), RSA Insurance, Metrobank and Essex Business School staff, gaining insight into some of the Essex companies operating in this sector, the jobs they may one day find themselves working in and courses they might study in years to come at the University of Essex.
The day began with students hearing about the scale of the sector in Essex, and how financial organisations are looking for young people in the county to not only take up traditional finance and insurance-related roles, but also increasingly jobs in the field of cyber security. The message in this opening session was very much that students don’t have to have top grades in mathematics to pursue fantastic careers in the sector (though in some cases it certainly helps!), and that companies are willing to help new entrants develop the work skills and technical knowledge they require as they start out on their career.
Students were then asked to answer a handful of questions about the sector, using interactive keypads, in order to gauge what they knew about the sector and how it’s changing, before Neal Robertson (Essex Business School) then told students about undergraduate life at the University and some of the finance-related courses on offer from the Business School. Students were then split into smaller groups and escorted to their first workshop of the day.
From this point onwards students were rotated around our four workshops, with a break for lunch in between. Metrobank talked to students about retail banking and careers with the company, RSA Insurance helped students understand in greater detail some of the important roles in their organisation and sector, DST talked to attendees about their company and the opportunities it provides to young people, and academic staff from UoE demonstrated their fantastic Bloomberg Trading Floor facilities and training software.
After each group had completed their rotation, students were then escorted by University staff on a tour of the Colchester campus, before being dropped back at their coach for the return journey to school.
We would like to thank every one of our workshop leaders on the day, Neal and the team at the Essex Business School for hosting us, and of course all of the students and teaching staff that joined us for the event. As part of our evaluation questionnaire for attendees we asked students to complete the statement ‘If there’s one thing I’ve learned today, it’s that…’. Below are just some of the responses we received:
‘that you don’t always need the best qualifications, because people can train you’
‘the finance market is growing and jobs are being created’
‘there is more to the finance sector than I thought’
As the day turned to evening we welcomed additional exhibitors from the Financial & Related Services sector into the Essex Business School. These included: DST Systems and RSA who remained with us after the earlier event, joined by Essex-based employers including Birkett Long, Rickard Luckin and BDO, AAT, the professional body for accounting technicians, Essex Adult Community Learning, Jobcentre Plus and the National Careers Service. The doors officially opened at 5pm but we had people queuing from 4.45 to see our exhibitors. Over 80 people came from across the County to find out about jobs and career paths within the sector that can be pursued in Essex.
“We were very encouraged by the response and attendance at the inaugural Recruitment Fair for Financial Services organised by the Essex Employment and Skills Board and Birkett Long is proud to be part of such a positive initiative. We are hopeful that this event and others that we hope will follow will prove very effective in terms of attracting high quality candidates wishing to pursue a career in financial services.” - David Cant, Partner & Director of Business Development & Marketing, Birkett Long.
“The ESB Finance recruitment event recently held at the University of Essex was a great success: the event was well attended by both younger job seekers looking for a first step on the career ladder and experienced job seekers considering a change of career into financial services - and all of the attendees were well briefed beforehand”. - Tara Simpson, Group Resourcing (Future Talent) and DST Community Engagement, DST.
Attendees were able to talk to employers about live vacancies and training organisations to understand various routes into the sector. In addition, attendees could also get support through access to the National Careers Service who can provide impartial information, advice and guidance to help individuals make decisions on their learning, training and work. The event led to 14 people booking in for 1-2-1 hour long sessions with an advisor.
The recruitment fair was the first of a series of events as part of our campaign to encourage more people to work in the sector in Essex instead of traveling to London. We’d like to thank everyone who took part in the day for helping to make it such a success.