By Daniel Hunter

All eyes are expected to be on the unemployment figures when they are published at 9.30 tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, to see if the underlying trend of recent months can be sustained.

However, all experts agree that youth unemployment remains alarmingly high, 16-24 year olds making up almost a third of the total unemployed. A pioneering new initiative being launched today is expected to make it easier for businesses to hire young people.

Small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) employ well over fifty percent of people, yet they are the most risk-averse when it comes to hiring new people without experience, often lacking the bandwidth to train them up. Many experts believe that lack of suitable experience is one of the critical reasons why youth unemployment is so high.

Today the first training sessions begin for the new Graduate Foundation College (GFC), set up by Financial Skills Partnership (FSP), an industry partnership and skills champion for the sector. This college is the first of its kind whereby 150 selected unemployed graduates are offered a concentrated ten week pre-employment training course preparing them to join financial advisory firms. When they have completed their training, these graduates will join small to medium-sized practices in Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London and Manchester for a minimum of six months of paid industry experience.

The FSP has been taking soundings from some of the independent financial advisers taking part. Andrew Waller, who is a director of Generation Financial Services in the City of London, said: “Our business is growing and needs to take on new staff, and I think this is a prudent and cost-effective way of doing so. It will clearly add value, especially to client servicing.”

Andrew continued: “This is a highly innovative training initiative. Without the GFC my firm would not be taking on a new graduate, as it simply does not have the facilities to provide the induction and initial training required.”

The GFC was developed with the support of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and major sector employers including Aviva, Just Retirement, Scottish Widows and Tenet, and Redland Business Solutions. It was set up to help solve the difficulties smaller practices often experience with regard to recruiting new talent. It encompasses e-learning, face-to-face workshops and exam preparation and trains graduates up to the first module of the regulated investment advice competence qualification.

Liz Field, FSP’s CEO, said: “We are very pleased that this groundbreaking new initiative is underway. It gives small and medium-sized financial advisory practices the opportunity to recruit bright young graduates who have already demonstrated their commitment to the profession by completing this course. The key advantage is that they can hit the ground running and make an immediate contribution to the practices they join without the drain on resources of an induction programme which many smaller practices simply cannot provide.”

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