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CISI urges employers to embrace apprenticeships

CISI urges employers to embrace apprenticeships

Employers should take advantage of a new government funding scheme for apprenticeship programs, as the value of having a university career lessens, the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments has said.

In its member magazine, the professional body argued that the huge take-up in university degrees in recent years meant a degree was "no longer a guaranteed fast pass to the top". 

This, it argued, meant apprenticeships were an increasingly attractive alternative.

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The Cisi referred to an  August 2016 report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research which found that over a lifetime, graduates earn just £2,200 more than apprentices.

“That’s a negligible £1 a week extra over the course of 40 years. In some areas, such as arts and humanities subjects, the earning potential of apprentices actually outstripped that of graduates by as much as 270 per cent," it said.

From April 2017, businesses with a payroll bill of under £3m - which Cisi said was 98 per cent of all UK businesses - will be eligible for government subsidies towards apprenticeship programs.

Cisi argued that mass take-up of this scheme by employers was essential to encourage students, parents and teachers to "believe in the value of apprenticeships."

Cisi chief executive Simon Culhane said: “Already many major employers, including banks and accountancy firms, are rethinking their recruitment process, either by reallocating some positions traditionally earmarked for graduates, or by increasing the scale of their existing apprenticeships scheme.

“Having a protected apprenticeship framework in place, as overseen by an Institute of Apprenticeships, will present an opportunity for individuals from all backgrounds to access a rewarding, professional career."

He added that it would also "sharpen the competition" among universities.

Matthew Harris, director of Harris Independent Financial Advice, said apprenticeships were in theory a good route into the financial advice profession, adding that a university degree was not a prerequisite for being a good or successful adviser.

"Being an IFA requires a certain level of intelligence - you need a grounding in maths and to be numerate - but you certainly don't need a degree," he said.

However, he was sceptical about the use some employers were making of apprentices, saying in some cases it was simply a way of employing people for less than minimum wage. 

In a recent article in FTAdviser, Ken Davy, chairman of The SimplyBiz Group, welcomed the government's latest apprenticeship initiative, saying: "I believe apprentices could play a major role in increasing access for consumers to high-quality professional advice."

james.fernyhough@ft.com