World Youth Skills Day takes place on June 15 and is an occasion which affords an opportunity for training institutions and businesses to acknowledge the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment.
It's vital now, more than ever, to ensure that young people acquire the skills they need to enter the workplace. This comes as many university and higher education courses were interrupted and moved online as a result of the pandemic. This, in turn, has led to young people inevitably feeling disengaged and demoralised, all while struggling to get a foothold on the jobs market.
According to a survey of students by parliament.uk which received over 25,000 responses, the majority felt that their courses have suffered as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. They were left feeling ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with the quality of education they were receiving.
In addition, the Office for National Statistics found that young workers have been hit the hardest by rising unemployment during the Covid-19 outbreak, with those under the age of 35 accounting for almost 80% of jobs lost over the past year.
Companies must recognise that younger generations bring with them a whole host of skills, ideas and benefits, and investing in the youth of today makes for a stronger tomorrow.
In fact, data from social research organisation McCrindle shows that by 2025, Gen Z workers will make up more than one-quarter (27%) of the global workforce.
For those younger generations looking to get their foot on the career ladder, we asked some of our consultants to share the best skills to focus on developing in order to pursue a career in the niche specialisms we cover.
There's more than one way to become an actuary and you can choose the route that best suits your situation now and your long-term ambitions. Most people start with a maths based degree at 2:1 or above and begin taking Actuarial exams once they have secured a graduate role.
If you don’t have a background in maths but are interested in an Actuarial career, it’s possible to take an Institute and Faculty of Actuaries exam to gain an understanding of the level of maths required to become an actuary.
The skills which any budding actuary should focus on developing are:
An analytical mind-set and problem-solving abilities
Mathematical and numeracy knowledge
Great communication and interpersonal skills
Strong computer literacy, especially with Microsoft Excel
Credit Risk & Analytics
In this highly technical area, more often than not, employers will require a numerical degree as an absolute minimum. Studying accounting, finance or mathematics will give candidates the perfect start to any analytical career path. Any degree courses that offer a placement year in industry are recommended above the rest, as those 12 months of real world expertise are invaluable to a potential future employer.
Academic studies will help you in developing all the right skills for this area, but any additional efforts you make in your own time won’t go unnoticed. Do what you can to develop:
Data management skills
Technical abilities with SAS and/or SQL
Advanced Excel knowledge, including functions such as pivot tables and VLOOKUPs
An analytical, problem-solving mind-set
Able to read data and draw meaningful insight from it
Good communication skills, from building relationships with colleagues to presenting your research in a clear, understandable manner
Contact Centres and Front-Line Talent
Customer Services experience is pivotal to successfully getting a job in most contact centres. Previous experience in retail, office administration, caring or active involvement in a social activity will always be seen as a positive on your CV.
Ensure that the grammar and spelling is correct on your CV, as attention to detail is often a requirement in many roles especially when entering customer details on to data management systems.
Job hopping, which is essentially having a lot of jobs over a relatively short period of time, is not always a bad thing but it’s important to provide a ‘reason for leaving’ for each role you have had.
Educational qualifications can be a match for experience. If you have GCSEs, A levels or a degree then this will provide a future employer with the knowledge that you can learn a new role and will probably handle training well despite a lack of hands-on experience.
Create a good impression by responding to requests for information from a recruiter or potential employer and returning telephone calls, emails and documentation requests promptly.
Training is normally provided for most entry level contact centre roles, but having basic skills such as typing, Microsoft Office and being able to listen on the phone and type at the same time will often open new doors and the opportunity for further development and progression.
Communication skills are also key, so speak clearly, listen attentively, gain understanding, be helpful and always offer further assistance.
Finance & Audit
There are two routes into most Finance & Audit careers. Firstly, you can go to university full-time first and then apply for a graduate job, usually on a graduate programme. The second way is to join an employer after your A levels or equivalent and start earning while you learn. This is usually referred to as a school leaver programme. A small number of employers allow you to start work and complete a university degree at the same time.
When looking into a career in Finance and/or Audit, these are the key skills you should be demonstrating:
Astute financial acumen
Strong commercial and analytical mind-set
The ability to understand and interpret numbers
A keen eye for detail and accuracy
An investigative nature
Presentation and report writing skills
Relationship building skills
Courses and industry bodies to look at for further information include the Association of Accounting Technicians, the ICAEW’s ACA Chartered Accountant Qualification, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Institute of Internal Auditors provides a wealth of information around how to get started.
Financial Crime & Fraud
Experience in a financial services business will help you to pursue a career in financial crime prevention, so any candidate looking to get in to this area in the long term should look for opportunities with FS or banking businesses in order to start building an understanding of the industry.
Financial Crime professionals need to be good at building relationships with stakeholders, external contacts and senior management, as well as staying up-to-date with industry developments, regulatory changes, new products or services, relevant laws and procedures, etc. It’s a great idea to immerse yourself in news, blogs, articles and literature related to the industry in order to pick up the language and start expanding your knowledge.
Starting out in fraud requires an investigative mind, an enjoyment of in-depth analysis and solving puzzles and at least basic knowledge of SAS and/or SQL. Many areas of financial services and data are trending towards more advanced data analysis, machine learning and AI, so any interest or knowledge of these areas is very beneficial.
Most employers prefer candidates who have earned a bachelor degree in a related area such as business or economics, logistics, supply chain management or purchasing. People who are interested in procurement careers can pursue BTEC, HND/HNC or NVQ certifications as well a suite of Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supplyqualifications.
It’s vital to have strong relationship skills as you’ll need to engage frequently with internal stakeholders and your chosen key suppliers to ensure that they deliver.
Analytical skills are also important as you’ll be expected to understand what the business currently needs to operate at its peak. It’s also your responsibility to ascertain and source what the business needs so make sure that you have a nous for networking. Getting the best prices and products is essential which is why you should take the time to sharpen your negotiation technique.
If you would like to discuss any of the topics covered in this or any of our other articles, please get in touch with the MERJE team: firstname.lastname@example.org