The engine room of the economy
Money isn’t everything, but how we save it, where we keep it, what businesses do with it and how it’s taxed are important concerns. That’s just part of what the finance sector does – it’s also responsible for employing over two million people and making a huge contribution to the running of the country.
Types of Apprenticeships
You could choose an Apprenticeship in accountancy, financial advice, insurance, investments, banking and more. It’s not all about the numbers, either: helping people and businesses make the right choices can be a big part of the job.
About business and finance
The finance sector has a part to play at almost every level of society, so it’s not surprising that it employs so many people – around seven percent of the entire UK workforce, in fact. There are opportunities in major cities all over the country and lots of well-established Apprenticeship programmes with employers of all sizes and in all kinds of business areas.
What can I do?
Because it’s a big sector, career paths in business and finance lead to a few different professions. You might work in accountancy and finance, for example, helping individuals, businesses, charities or even the government; or perhaps you’ll work in banking, taking care of money matters on behalf of all kinds of customers, big and small.
Knowing what to do with money (other than trying not to spend all of it on nice things) can be tricky for anyone, so another area is financial planning, advising people and organisations on the best way to spend, save and invest it.
Tied in to the fact that we never know exactly what’s around the corner is the insurance industry, which helps us protect against the unexpected. Work in this area and you might be dealing with home, car, life or even pet insurance, collaborating with other companies or dealing with customers directly.
Finally, investment and pensions companies need people to predict what the stock markets are going to do, trade stocks, provide analysis and support and much more. You could be filling any of these roles in a huge company, maybe working overseas, or even setting up your own firm.
Skills to pay the bills
While a head for figures is definitely helpful in some roles in the finance sector, it’s not the only thing that employers look for. You’ll need to be good at Maths and English, yes, but this is very much a people-focused area so things like being a good team player, communicating well with others and having a responsible, professional attitude are also really important.
These skills (and more) are all things that your training will help you develop, whether you choose an Apprenticeship, a degree or any other kind of vocational qualification. You’ll learn about the technical side of things, but also build your confidence in the workplace.
Business and finance careers
So, what can you do? Here are just some of the careers out there:
Accounting – accounts clerk, bookkeeping assistant, cashier, finance assistant, credit control clerk
Financial Advice and Insurance – underwriter, broker, financial adviser, pensions administrator, claims handler, credit coordinator, mortgage adviser
Banking – bank manager, business/commercial relationship manager
The finance sector has lots of opportunities to gain advanced qualifications and to move into senior roles, so you really could start at the bottom of the ladder in a small regional accountancy firm and end up as the boss of a multinational company.
You can start your search for Apprenticeships and jobs in the industry at Careermap. It’s also worth visiting professional bodies in the part of the sector you’re interested in, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales or the Chartered Institute of Insurance General sites like theCityUK.com will tell you more about the industry, too.
Routes into the finance sector include:
- Vocational qualifications / A Levels
- Scottish Vocational Qualifications
- Foundation Degrees (England and Wales only)
- Bachelors Degrees
Earn and learn
Apprentices split their time between training with an employer and studying at college, which means you’ll be paid a salary while you’re learning. You can gain nationally-recognised qualifications that will set you up to work for all kinds of employers in many different job roles.
Apprenticeships are becoming more and more popular in this sector, with many students and employers seeing them as a great alternative to University. With the right Apprenticeship you can get degree-level qualifications and land a well paid job without any student debt to worry about.
There are too many apprenticeships available to list them all here, but examples include:
- Providing financial advice (Higher Apprenticeship)
- Banking (higher apprenticeship)
- Business and administration
Some of the UK’s biggest firms – including Aviva, Deloitte and PwC – offer Apprenticeships, but you’ll find that many more small to medium-sized enterprises (often referred to as ‘SMEs’) offer them too. Whoever you work for, they’ll help you get the skills you need with carefully structured training – many employers have been running Apprenticeships for years, so you’ll be in good hands.
Levels of Apprenticeship
The level of Apprenticeship available varies slightly depending on the part of the sector you enter – banking, for example, only offers Higher Apprenticeships. Broadly, though, there are three levels:
Level Two (Intermediate) – equivalent to GCSEs / Standard Grades
Level Three (Advanced) – equivalent to A Levels / Highers
Level Four (Higher) – equivalent to Foundation Degree / Advanced Highers
A Level Two Apprenticeship takes two years to complete, then you can continue for another year to achieve Level Three. Level Four is designed for those aiming for senior or management careers.
It’s also possible to do a degree Apprenticeship in areas like banking, which starts you off as an Apprentice and trains you right up to Degree Level, all from leaving school – check out learning providers like BPP for more information.
Life as a business and finance apprentice
With so much variety in the finance sector, there’s no shortage of jobs to choose from, each offering a different experience and working environment.
What will I be doing?
Lots of people are office-based (although not everyone), so you might be part of a team in an accounts or finance department of a larger company (which could be anything from a bookseller to a bowler hat maker); on the other hand, you might work for a specialist accountancy firm or financial adviser.
Alternatively, you could work for a branch of a high street bank, which might mean a role where you’re meeting and helping members of the public. Or you could be employed by a big investment bank, wrangling the numbers on behalf of global corporations.
Whether you’re in a huge team or there’s just a few of you, you’ll be balancing your work life with your studies, picking up skills on the job as well as at college. But it’s not all about work, as you’ll be able to socialise with your fellow students and your work colleagues too. You might even pick up some handy tips on how to make your money go further along the way…
You could work in…
- Accountancy firms
- High street banks
- Finance departments
- Customer service centres
- Local businesses
Find Apprenticeships and jobs in the business and finance industry near you here