Money, money, money
Money is complicated, and we don’t just mean trying to fold those new five pound notes. It’s complicated to keep track of, to trade with, and to invest in the right place. That’s where people working in business and finance (sometimes called financial services) come in, helping to run the processes that keep our financial markets, banks and businesses running. It’s not all about cold numbers, though: helping us make the right financial choices can be a big part of the job, so it’s also an industry with a very human side.
Types of apprenticeship
Apprenticeships are available in accountancy, financial advice, insurance, investments, banking and more.
About business and finance
Money matters to all of us. We all have something to do with it on a daily basis, as every time we buy or sell something we contribute to the economy and make a tiny change to the big picture. Meanwhile, everyone else – people, businesses, even countries – is doing the same thing. With so much going on, it’s not surprising that the finance sector employs so many people – around seven percent of the entire UK workforce, in fact – to keep track of it. That’s good news if you want to get involved, as 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
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.
Apprenticeships are becoming more and more popular as way to get started, 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.
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.
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…
High street banks
Customer service centres
Find apprenticeships and jobs in business and finance near you at Careermap