"Several studies following the recession have shown more employers placing an increased emphasis on employability rather than solely on qualifications.
Internships, for example, give young people exposure to a professional environment, enable them to put their skills into action, and provide them with a head-start in some of the UK’s most competitive industries including financial services.
There is a misconception that City jobs are inaccessible to anyone who isn’t privately educated or Oxbridge alumni – this is not and has never been true.
Recent figures actually show that insurance and banking firms in the City are leading the way when it comes to offering paid internships to students. These have increased by 1,150 per cent and 74 per cent respectively over the last five years.
At the City of London Corporation, we work closely with top firms in the Square Mile through our Working Together programme; last year, introducing around 2,500 state school pupils to career opportunities in the City. This is through taster sessions, internships and apprenticeships.
One student who is benefiting from putting university plans on hold is Khadija, a school leaver from Hackney. She is completing a gap year internship at financial institution ING, arranged by Brokerage Citylink.
Far from just making the coffee, she helps compile monthly operations reports, attends regular meetings with the senior leadership team and has become adept at handling challenging situations. At age 19, she has already received a number of job offers from other City firms via her LinkedIn profile.
The straight to university route is still very much the norm and actively encouraged in UK schools, but students shouldn’t pass up the opportunity for a more hands-on work experience."
Mark Boleat is the policy chairman at the City of London Corporation
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