Innovate Finance launched its FinTech for Schools campaign over March 2019, designed to encourage young people to understand the increasing importance of digital skills in the workplace, with an emphasis on ensuring the sector’s appeal to girls.
Zoya Malik spoke to Innovate Finance’s CEO Charlotte Crosswell from Innovate Finance on her views on how the campaign will function to nurture future Fintech recruits.
Charlotte: FinTech is one of the UK’s fastest growing industries, and one where we hold a strong competitive advantage. Success is however heavily dependent on talent, which is in short supply both domestically and globally. This is why supporting talent and skills in FinTech is a key priority for Innovate Finance in 2019 as we recognise this is one of the biggest issues for our FinTech community.
FinTech for Schools is an important piece of our Skills and Talent work, which aims to support a future domestic pipeline of talent. It is vital that we ensure we are inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators, and equipping them with the skills they will need to succeed.
Zoya: How will FinTech for School’s initiative fill the fintech talent gap?
Charlotte: It has been shown that by the age of 10, children already have a strong sense of identity of what they can and can’t do. Inspiring young girls from an early age, by providing them with a wide variety of role models from diverse backgrounds and skill sets, is a vital first step in creating a new model to deliver real change in terms of diversity. The main approach is to target secondary school students to inspire them at this crucial point in their lives, as they make decisions between universities or more specialised further education such as apprenticeships. This along with supporting Innovate Finance member companies with their skills and talent requirements, by providing an umbrella to tie together the various skills programmes developed across member firms.
Our initiative is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of digital skills, rather than actually teaching the skills per se. We would like to show young people, their parents and their teachers that there are a wide range of career options within FinTech. We recognise that this is a massive undertaking and that we cannot do this alone. So, we want to involve our members in our FinTech for Schools initiative to help raise awareness of FinTech and support their own talent and skills initiatives.
Zoya: What has been your approach to schools?
Charlotte: We have already presented at two schools in South East England, but want to be able to reach as many regions and education establishments as possible, working with our members to leverage their own networks and existing initiatives.
We have a range of resources that can be used by schools and are downloadable on our website. (https://www.innovatefinance.com/talent/#resources). These include a brief PowerPoint presentation that gives a brief explanation of FinTech and the importance of digital skills in the future; a video compilation explaining how you can get into FinTech, with a wide range of contributions from our community of FinTech innovators, talking about their experiences and giving their advice on how to succeed in the sector; individual vox pop videos that were used as a base for the compilation video and a Kahoot! FinTech quiz.
When we present the FinTech for Schools initiative, we also invite two of our members to give a brief outline of their pathway into FinTech. The presentation part (30 minutes) is followed by a networking session with 10-12 of our FinTech firms to give pupils a chance to talk and learn more, ask questions and hopefully connect with some really positive role models, who can help advise them on their future career choices. In this first phase of the initiative, we do not envisage running a formal mentoring programme. A future aim of the FinTech for Schools initiative is to create opportunities for students to gain work experience within the sector.
Zoya: How will a new generation of students be incentivised to join the fintech industry?
Charlotte: Our future will increasingly be dependent on the growth of non-traditional areas of finance, and technological developments away from financial services, so demystifying the sector through initiatives like our FinTech for Schools programme will play an important role in attracting the next generation to consider it as a career.
Zoya: What is the prospect for fintech growth and investment in the UK over the next 5-10 years?
Charlotte: In 2018, Innovate Finance co-produced a report with WPI Economics to look at the global talent pool that supports the FinTech sector. Our report highlighted the growing importance of FinTech in the UK: the sector is set to top 100,000 employees by the year 2030, with 30,000 new jobs created and an estimated 3,300 UK FinTech firms. Our estimates suggest there were 1,600 FinTech Firms in 2018, employing 76,500 people.