Several Glasgow-based firms are among more than 700 across the UK offering internships to students as part of an expanded programme to increase diversity within 24 professional sectors while also transforming the prospects of young people from African, Caribbean and mixed black backgrounds.

Applications have opened today for 10,000 Black Interns, which aims to place 2,000 young people annually into paid roles for at least the next five years. It follows on the success of a first series of internships, focused primarily on the fund management sector, which delivered more than 500 placements at companies ranging from Goldman Sachs and HSBC to Coutts and St James’ Place.

Backed by seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton, the programme was co-founded last year by a team of former investment industry professionals. They include Jonathan Sorrell, president of Capstone Investment Advisors; Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, co-founder of Redington and Mallowstreet; Michael Barrington-Hibbert, managing partner of Barrington Hibbert Associates; and Wol Kolade CBE, managing partner of Livingbridge.

Successful candidates will get on-the-job training in sectors such as banking and finance, investment management, insurance, accountancy, law, healthcare management, education, technology, recruitment, engineering and marketing. Companies offering internships range from multinational corporations such as GSK and Google to accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and the NHS.

Those offering places in Glasgow include spirits group Beam Suntory, financial consultants Hymans Robertson, pensions consultants Spence & Partners, legal firm Grant Thornton and investment bank Morgan Stanley.

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Sir Lewis, whose Hamilton Commission earlier this year highlighted the reasons for the lack of black representation in UK motorsport, said: “10,000 Black Interns is an important initiative which aims to address the underrepresentation of black talent in British business, by offering paid internships across a wide range of exciting sectors.

“This programme is a real game-changer for young people and I strongly encourage black students to apply.”

Lucy Kwe Okaro, who is in the final year of studying for her degree in accounting and finance at the University of Glasgow, took part in this past summer’s programme with a 12-week internship at Janus Henderson Investment Management. This included a combination of remote working along with some days in the London office of Janus Henderson.

Training sessions helped prepare Ms Okaro and other programme participants for the interviews to secure their internships, while also offering practical advice on how to get the most out of their placements. She said this coaching helped improve her confidence, emphasising the message that “it’s not about where you start, but where you end up”.

“I was fortunate enough to have a rotational internship where I was able to see many different roles within asset management,” Ms Okaro said. “This taught me how dynamic the industry is, and that it is possible to find a position that matches your strengths and passion.

HeraldScotland: Lucy Kwe OkaroLucy Kwe Okaro

“My internship gave me a lot of direction for my future. I was able to work on several ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) projects which I thoroughly enjoyed. In fact, because of this, I have decided to base my dissertation around sustainable investing.”

She is hoping to join the programme again this year before pursuing graduate opportunities and a Masters programme in the field of asset management, where she hopes to one day help create sustainable investment products.

Mr Sorrell of Capstone Investment described the scale of the opportunity available to young black people through the programme as “truly inspiring”.

“The professional exposure on offer to successful applicants t this programme will be invaluable, and in many cases could be career-defining or even life-changing,” he added.

The scheme has received backing from the Confederation of British Industry, the Association of British Insurers, former prime minister David Cameron and a variety of other representatives from industry, education and politics.

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Speaking at the launch of 10,000 Black Interns earlier this year, Mr Cameron said: “This initiative will help build a more inclusive economy that works for everyone. We are encouraging leaders from British industry and professional services to champion the effort in their sector.”

The programme is open for applications until November 7 from young people with African, Caribbean, mixed black and/or black British backgrounds who are over the age of 18 and are currently studying at university in the UK, or who have graduated since 2018. The internships will constitute paid work experience lasting a minimum of six weeks, taking place in the summer of 2022.

“More often than not, success in life is the result of being given an opportunity to show what you can do,” Mr Konotey-Ahulu said.

“Early in my career, I was fortunate to have people who believed in me and gave me a chance. I didn’t have a typical background for a City job but they gave me a shot anyway. That’s what this programme is doing for thousands of young men and women who will soon show us just how far they can go.”