The CEO of Wales’ only FTSE 100 company has praised a graduate programme for giving the financial sector the adaptability, diversity, and inclusion it needs to be resilient post-pandemic.

Delivering the keynote address at the 2021 launch event of the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme Admiral Group CEO, Milena Mondini, outlined why attracting and developing young professionals from diverse backgrounds is vital for the country’s leading financial organisations.

This year over 40% of all graduates accepted onto the Programme are female, and 30% of places have been secured by those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.  This is the result of eight years of work by developers to build close relationships with university careers services, community leaders and influencers, to create an outreach programme to ensure young talents in communities across South Wales are encouraged to pursue the opportunities on offer.

That work could well set a benchmark for financial organisations across the country. In its business plan published in July 2021, the UK Financial Conduct Authority expressed its aims to improve the diversity and inclusion of its own workforce, as well as of the financial services sector generally.

Officially launching the Programme, Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething, highlighted its contribution to growth of Wales’ financial sector, commenting:

“As part of the Welsh Government’s efforts to kick-start a strong economic recovery, we want to help create new jobs, especially in the industries of the future, providing work and training opportunities to people across Wales. In particular, we have a clear focus on supporting young people into work. That’s why we are committed to delivering our Young Person’s Guarantee, which will give everyone under 25 in Wales the offer of work, education, training, or self-employment.

“So, I am delighted to launch the 2021-2023 cohort of the EU-funded Financial Services Graduate Programme. Over £6m of EU funds have been invested in this programme, allowing more graduates the opportunity to pursue professional careers here in Wales, and helping businesses develop the next generation of leaders.

“The programme is successfully supporting young people to unlock their potential by developing the skills and experiences they will need to improve their career prospects, as well retaining and nurturing talent here in Wales.”

The Programme has been managed by the Welsh Contact Centre Forum since 2015. Ensuring that opportunities within Wales’ financial services sector are open to all has been a key priority since it was first launched to aid the Welsh financial sector’s recovery from the devastation of the 2008 recession.

Over 200 graduates have launched careers here in Wales after seizing the chance to obtain a funded MSc in Financial Services, while sampling a portfolio of career paths as they rotate through several placements with some of the country’s most desirable employers.

The Programme is part funded by the European Social Fund via Welsh Government. Nearly 70% of graduates are recruited directly from Welsh universities and 98% go on to secure roles within Wales’ financial sector. It is now a go-to graduate talent programme for leading employers including Admiral, Confused.com, and Legal and General, to recruit high-calibre graduates.

Speaking to the Programme’s newest cohort as they prepare to begin their first of three industry placements, Admiral Group CEO, Milena Mondini de Focatiis, said: “I’m delighted that Admiral Group has been a part of the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme since its inception.

“To date, 19 graduates have joined us in permanent roles following on from placements, many of whom have gone on to progress their careers across the organisation. Their diversity of background and positive energy have brought material value to both us and the Financial Services sector here in Wales.”

“In our experience, this Programme provides participants with the chance to hone their skills as they adapt to new roles and the different ways businesses operate and respond to challenges. The skillset that participants gain through this process will ensure they are well positioned to add value to the Welsh Financial Services sector in the future.”

The list of leading Welsh companies to incorporate the Programme as an essential part of their recruitment activities includes, Admiral, Atradius, Amber Energy, Confused.com, Development Bank of Wales, Hodge Bank, Indigo Telecom, Legal & General, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Monmouthshire Building Society, Motonovo, Optimum Credit, Principality Building Society, Propel Finance, sa.global, Skillcert and Vauxhall Finance.

Sandra Busby, Managing Director of the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, said: “This Programme exists to provide employers with the ability to attract and develop candidates with the acumen, skills, and training that allows Wales’ financial sector to adapt to developing trends and accelerate new products and services.  These opportunities are available to all graduates, and we will continue our work to ensure that talent pool we create represents the true diversity of communities in South Wales.

“Our successes to date are founded on longstanding partnerships with employers that ensure that graduates, and businesses benefit from the latest academic training and industry best practice. I am sure that our latest cohort will continue to drive Wales towards its goal of rivalling the UK’s long-established financial hubs.”

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