UK Must Rise to Finance Skills Challenge to Maintain World Leader Status

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Union leaders, employers and minister for skills David Lammy have set out the skills challenge facing the UK finance sector at a seminar hosted by unionlearn, the TUC’s learning and skills organisation.

The finance sector has grown by more than five per cent a year since 2002 and currently accounts for eight per cent of GDP. The industry now employs over a million workers.

Despite this progress, a recent Treasury review of City competitiveness warned that the financial sector is vulnerable to offshoring. The latest report from the Financial Services Sector Council (FSSC) also highlighted critical skills needs across the sector. At the seminar, a range of experts identified the steps needed to meet this challenge.

Speaking at the skills seminar, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Financial services have been the powerhouse of the British economy in recent years. But we can’t afford to be complacent. The finance sector relies heavily on high-level skills and unless we can meet this demand we will lose our world-leader status.

"Much work is already under way. Unions are working with employers, the government and the FSSC to develop a skills agreement for the finance sector. We are encouraging employers to sign up to the Skills Pledge and support the development of new apprenticeships such as those for investment administrators and financial advisers.

"Where employers have worked with unions, through our network of union learning reps, to improve skills at work the results have been impressive. But more has to be done. Training is needed throughout the finance industry – not just for managers and professionals but also for junior staff, who want careers in finance but are often shackled by dead-end low-paid jobs. Only by working together can we hope to meet this huge skills challenge."

Minister for skills David Lammy commented: "The finance sector is at the heart of the British economy, and continued skills development in the sector is vital to our success and prosperity."

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