With Fintech expected to be one of the main areas of post-pandemic growth, City of Glasgow College is ensuring the increased demand for the sector’s skill sets is met

WITH unemployment forecast to rise further as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, one particular area that is predicted to remain healthy and even grow is financial services and financial technology (Fintech).

It means there will be opportunities for people to move into the sector and, in order to help them, City of Glasgow College is introducing new courses and adapting others to meet the demand.

The institution has always been at the forefront of college education with regard to Financial Services and is currently the only one in Scotland to offer HNCs and HNDs in the subject. 

It was also the first to pilot foundation apprenticeships in financial services and has a successful history in delivering skills for work in the sector as part of its senior phase schools partnership, supported by Royal Bank of Scotland.

Working closely with employers and Skills Development Scotland (SDS), the college has now taken the lead in developing an award-winning Fast Track to Financial Services course, designed to upskill graduates to give them opportunities in the sector and delivered both by lecturers and by financial services industry experts.

The development of the course has highlighted the college’s adaptability and speed in being able to respond to the needs of industry, as it has taken a mere six months from the initial contact with business leaders and other stakeholders to the point of actual delivery.

“Having that ability and agility to turn things round very quickly allows us to give maximum support to the upskilling and reskilling that is needed to support the economy,” said Gus Grubb, Dean for the Faculty of Education and Humanities.

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“In the likelihood that the unemployment figures are going to expand when we come out of lockdown, and furlough comes to an end, we are positioned very well as Scotland’s largest college to respond to the upskilling and reskilling demand that will be placed upon a range of sectors, not just financial services.”

He pointed out that the Scottish financial sector is the second largest in the UK, and is continuing to grow as can be seen from the investment by banking giant Barclays on the Clydeside which is drawing attention to Glasgow as a major financial services district.

Gus Grubb works closely with Barclays as well as others in the financial services sector such as RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, BNP Paribas and HSBC who have all provided support in the delivery of the Fast Track course.

To maintain those relationships and understand the needs of the sector, Grubb sits on the Glasgow Economic Leadership group (GEL) which includes representatives from across the Financial Services industry as well as skills agencies.

“Having that stakeholder engagement and understanding the direction of travel in the financial services world is absolutely key in ensuring the toolkit we give students is up to date and as complete as it can be in the current climate,” he said. 

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“At the end of the day our business is about getting our graduates into employment and what we want to do is make sure the skills they leave college with are sufficient and adaptable so they can utilise them in a number of directions within the financial services sector, whether it is Fintech or other areas.”

Grubb added: “The prediction post-Covid is that a number of sectors such as hospitality will be hit harder than others. We may be able to mobilise a number of those individuals being displaced to give them a very short, sharp introduction to the wider aspects of financial services and provide them with vital opportunities at a time of hardship when the economy is in freefall for a while.

“I think what we offer at the college, in alignment with the growth of financial services in Scotland, provides that base to support and kick-start the economy again with a skills led approach.”

He said he could see the college developing more short flexible courses which will help to upskill or reskill individuals who have lost their jobs or need a career change.
Grubb added that the result of the lockdown could lead to organisations reviewing their operations and making changes.

“I think a lot of the work that was conducted elsewhere, such as customer services, may come back here,” he said.

The college is also looking at embedding the new Fast Track to Financial Services course in the technology courses offered by the college in software development, computer science, cybersecurity and networking, so that graduates can tailor these skills towards job roles in the Fintech sector by combining knowledge of financial services regulation, risk and business values.  

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Students bank on professional advice

Fintech Scotland support ensures courses meet sector’s current needs

CITY of Glasgow College is also continuing to lead the further education sector by recognising the impact of financial technology (Fintech).

For this reason it is adapting its current Financial Services HNC to incorporate Fintech provision so that graduates will not only have knowledge of the latest developments in the financial services sector but will also have skills in developing software, data analytics, cyber reliance and various IT applications.

“We are always trying to lead the way and make sure we remain up to date so we are constantly evolving the curriculum in light of what industry demands,” said Maddy Green, Associate Dean for Accounting and Supply Chain Management at the college.

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“The hope is that we will continue to be the leader in financial services college education by providing graduates with suitable skills to meet the needs of the sector.”
In order to keep informed about the changing needs of the sector, the college is organising focus groups supported by Fintech Scotland. These will involve employers who will be able to provide information about the skills they will need from graduates in the next few years. 

“Industry engagement is really important in making sure we are delivering the right content and the focus groups will also be an opportunity for the curriculum team to meet and interact with these industry experts, who will hopefully then increase the exposure our students have to these organisations,” said Green. “We will be asking them to enlighten us on their recruitment processes and possibly how they might have changed as a result of Covid, as they may be more digitally focused. Once we get a better sense of how these things will work, we can make sure we upskill our students accordingly.”

The focus groups will also try to reach out to SMEs within the sector.
“We are already very fortunate to have good relationships with some of the bigger players in the financial services sector but holding smaller focus groups, looking at SMEs and the skills they need, will be crucial in making sure our curriculum goes in the right direction,” said Green. 

“Very often SMEs will need individuals with skills across a range of different subject areas who can turn their hand to many different things. An HNC in Fintech will bring them a knowledge of cybersecurity, data analytics and financial services regulations so that it really builds a very well rounded graduate.”

An entrepreneurial attitude will be encouraged in students who may consider starting their own business.

“The Fintech sector has so many opportunities for enterprising individuals and business start-ups if you have the right skills and the right ideas,” said Green.

 

  • This article was produced in association with City of Glasgow College as part of the The Herald's STEM campiagn