West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges

15 May 2024

New report delivers blueprint for colleges to enhance finance and professional services sector

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A new report sets out how colleges can play a leading role in supporting West Yorkshire’s flourishing finance and professional services (FPS) industry.

Commissioned by Luminate Education Group as part of the Local Skills Improvement Fund, the research builds on the work of the Yorkshire and Humber Financial and Professional Services Skills Commission, and highlights how colleges are currently an untapped resource for a sector that employs around 80,000 people within the region.

The report was launched to an audience of financial and professional service employers at a special FinTech North event in Leeds City College's Printworks campus in May.

Despite a number of colleges now offering higher education and degree-level qualifications, the report found that college students are not currently a major source of new hires into FPS. And of the FPS-related courses that were looked at, more than half were offered by universities.

Alongside supporting the development of both entry level talent and existing employees, college qualifications are identified in the report as a vehicle that could be particularly effective in meeting an increased demand for soft skills across the sector.

Luminate Education Group recently held a launch event at Leeds City College’s Printworks campus to share the research with over 50 employers and education providers. The group also used the occasion to announce its commitment to the report’s recommendations, establishing a partnership with regional FinTech cluster body, FinTech North, to support the skills needs within the sector through rich engagement with employers.

Bill Jones, Deputy CEO of Luminate Education Group, said: “Our new report is the result of a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the talent and skills landscape across West Yorkshire’s financial and professional services landscape. It highlights a series of recommendations as to how colleges can help to develop this sector, foster better collaboration with employers, and deliver economic and societal benefits across the region.

“Luminate Education Group is committed to enacting the recommendations in this report, to maximise the success of West Yorkshire’s finance and professional services sector. I’m excited about the benefits our partnership with FinTech North will bring students, employers and the region as a whole.”

Julian Wells, Director of Whitecap Consulting, the Leeds-based based strategy consultancy that supported the report, said: This is a forward-thinking report that highlights ambition and opportunity in equal measure, and reflects very positively on the ability for further and higher education colleges to support the finance and professional services sector. Luminate’s decision to launch the report at a FinTech North event is evidence of their desire to embrace the new technology-led developments that are becoming prominent.”

FinTech North LSIF report launch 2024(Pictured - Calderdale College Principal, David Malone talks to FinTech North delegates about the Local Skills Improvement Plan and Funding as the report is launched at Leeds City College's Printworks campus)

To unlock colleges’ contribution to the sector, the research recommends the delivery of relevant courses be expanded and strengthened, alongside the introduction of new programmes and more flexible approaches to learning. It also highlights the importance of aligning course curriculum to emerging fields, such as FinTech and LegalTech, through strong employer engagement.

So financial and professional services employers can better respond to evolving skills needs, the report also recommends that colleges especially enhance their offering around soft skills, to directly help prepare students for professional life in the sector.

And, given the lack of awareness and understanding of the role colleges could play in supporting employers’ skills needs at present, it highlights that they must develop a clearer proposition for businesses within FPS.

This report forms part of a wider project, funded by the UK Government’s Local Skills Improvement Funding (LSIF), which seeks to address current and future FPS skills priorities in West Yorkshire. This wider project is being led by Luminate Education Group, alongside West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges, Calderdale College, Shipley College and the Heart of Yorkshire College Group.

Download the report

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