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For many young graduates, being able to gain experience in their chosen career path is all but a dream.

Yet without such experience, it can be difficult to access the careers they wish to pursue. Without these opportunities, they will find it impossible to enter let alone progress in their chosen field. It is essentially a ‘catch 22’ situation.

Working as an intern offers a young person the way out of this bind; an opportunity to ‘live and breathe’ the role, gain invaluable training and start building relationships in their chosen field. It also enables them to clearly visualise a possible future career path within their chosen profession or industry sector.

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Many large businesses create and maintain ongoing internship programmes, but many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), may feel they do not have the necessary resources to take on young people as interns and give them sufficient training and attention to make it a truly worthwhile experience for them.

Yet SMEs, which make up 90% of the financial services sector, have the agility to create jobs to service a growing client-base. Taking on interns can be a wonderful way for them to manage the risk this involves by ‘trialling’ prospective talent first and gaining insight into the ways in which the interns operate within their organisations, before committing themselves to hiring someone on a permanent basis.

It is precisely to meet the needs of such smaller firms that the Financial Skills Partnership (FSP) set up its new Graduate Foundation College last year, which has pre-trained its first intake of unemployed graduates for ten weeks, giving them the basic knowledge and skills equipping them to join an SME financial advisory practice.

The training is by face-to-face workshops, e-learning and exam preparation training and includes taking a financial Services, regulation and ethics module. Graduates are then placed with small and medium-sized practices for a six month period of paid industry experience. Companies participating gain by increasing the probability of employing fresh talent into their businesses.

Given the current state of the financial services industry, internships have never been more crucial nor offered greater potential benefit to employers and this scheme comes with the greatest possible level of support. For example, Redland’s ‘insight’ portal is made available to participating firms to allow them to record the progress of the intern.

Through its online internship toolkit, due to be added shortly to the FSP’s other online resource offerings for its members, the FSP makes available all the resources and guidance firms new to this process may need to ensure that both the business and the intern achieve a highly beneficial outcome.

The toolkit is divided into sections which include best practice guidelines, types of tasks that employers can assign to interns and templates that can be downloaded to help businesses plan their internships.