New financial services qualification for NW secondary schools

Wed, 18/12/2019 - 12:35 -- Editor

A new Financial Services qualification – the first of its kind in N. Ireland – has been launched by the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman William Russell, on a recent visit to the city.

The CISI Financial Services qualification is part of a pilot with local schools which will offer an initial cohort of 20-25 Year 12 students the opportunity to gain a Level 2 Award in the Fundamentals of Financial Services.

The qualification will initially be delivered at Holy Cross College, Strabane Academy and Castlederg High School, and is the ideal starting point for a career in financial services. The pilot is the first step in Council’s development of a dedicated CISI Educational growth strategy for local schools, FE and HE sector to support the growth of the financial services sector across the City and District.

The Lord Mayor was joined by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle, and pupils and teachers from the schools for the launch. Speaking at the event, Mayor Boyle said it was essential that the education sector equips students with skills that are relevant and in-demand in terms of securing future employment.

“I am delighted to see the launch of this pilot programme,” she declared. “As we work towards generating the 15,100 new jobs needed to rejuvenate the local economy by 2032, one of the primary objectives of our Strategic Growth Plan – the expansion of our talent and skills base - has never been more important.

“We need to equip our young people with the knowledge and specialist skills to compete for jobs and to offer investors a significant pool of talent that will draw their attention and business to the North West.

“The City of London identified an opportunity to link DCSDC with the CISI to deliver their qualifications to our students, and we hope to strengthen these links going forward. This pilot is based on research carried out both within Council and by City of London staff, and aims to deliver a unique opportunity for local students, helping Derry and Strabane to establish itself as a centre for excellence in financial services.”

The ICT and Fintech sectors are among the fastest growing industries in the North West with ICT permeating almost all sectors of the economy. Projected growth areas cover not only the staples of Software Development, Data Analytics and Tech Support but also the specialist areas of Cloud, Cyber security, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Processing Automation (RPA) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Head of Business with Derry and Strabane Council, Kevin O’Connor, said that targeting these key areas would help progress local ambitions in terms of jobs growth.

“The UK and NI industrial strategies highlight and emphasise the level of ambition that we need to have for the employability and skills agenda if we are to stay ahead of global competitors by investing today in skills for the future.

“We need to focus on the current and future needs of employers in relation to education, skills and recruitment to create a better skilled and educated workforce. I am delighted to see our work with the City of London yielding opportunities for our local young people in these emerging competitive areas.”

The CISI pilot is the result of ongoing work between Council through its Education and Skills Delivery Partnership and the City of London, which is the financial hub of the UK. Speaking after the launch Alderman Russell said it reflected the spirit of education and innovation which is a key focus of his tenure as Lord Mayor. “Northern Ireland has important historic ties with the City of London, which have today evolved into a modern partnership around trade, innovation and culture.

“My mission is to bolster those links and encourage innovative Northern Irish enterprises to use the City of London’s international programmes to grow and expand.”

The Education and Skills Delivery Partnership (ESDP) was established as an outcome delivery partnership under the Strategic Growth Plan, to support the education and skills ambitions outlined in the plan. Council alongside its partners, is supporting employers to secure and develop the skills they need to increase productivity, and enable individuals to find fulfilling employment and progress in today’s competitive and dynamic world of work.