National financial services academy to open next year

Education secretary Ruth Kelly and trade and industry secretary Alan Johnson says the Financial Services Skills Council has been successful in its bid to create a National Financial Services Academy.

The NFSA is scheduled to open in September 2006, with an initial three centres in London, Manchester and Norwich.

Further centres will be developed in other areas, likely to include Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds.

Employers signing up to the bid include Nationwide and Norwich Union. Other partners include the UK Career Academy Foundation, the London Development Agency and the Corporation of the City of London.

The FSSC is currently inviting other financial services employers to sponsor the academy financially and be involved in its governance at national level. In return for sponsorship, the government will invest both capital and revenue funding towards the academy.

National skills academies are new initiatives which will provide vocational education and training for young people and adults. Each focusing on a specific sector, the academies will be led and sponsored by employers, and be funded by both the private and public sector.

The FSSC proposal was one of four successful bids from a 23-strong field, along with construction, food and drink, and manufacturing.

The four successful proposals were identified by a national employer-led assessment panel as best demonstrating how employers and sector skills councils would work with educational partners to deliver high quality training to meet the needs of their sectors, help transform existing provision, and build strong links to existing high quality providers.

The aim of the academy will be to provide solutions to some of the long-standing skills problems facing financial services employers in particular, improving the employability of young people, providing entry-level training of high quality and facilities for retraining and continuing professional development.

Employers will decide on the programmes offered, which might include new education and work-based routes to employment and flexible, short programmes.

Kelly says: In the past, government has let down employers when it has tried to second guess what different sectors need.

“But equally, employers have been guilty of watching government initiatives from the sidelines and expressing disappointment when they inevitably land wide of the mark.

“National skills academies are an opportunity for government and employers to achieve common goals, to pursue a mutually beneficial endeavour and build a Britain of enterprise and opportunity.

Teresa Sayers, chief executive of the FSSC says: The creation of a National Financial Services Academy will represent an important step forward in encouraging financial services employers to work in partnership with the public education sector to ensure that the skills that the industry needs are the skills that it gets.

“We need employers in all sectors of the industry to join us in the development of the Academy, to help us shape the programmes and to provide financial backing.