Home Estate Planning Financial services should get out of London to find new talent, education secretary says

Financial services should get out of London to find new talent, education secretary says

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Financial services firms should “get out more” to attract talent, Gillian Keegan has said.

The education secretary, speaking to City A.M., suggested City hiring managers who have warned of recruitment issues need to look outside of the capital to address a lack of staff.

Keegan, who attended a roundtable with JP Morgan apprentices in Canary Wharf to mark National Apprenticeships Week, said if there were “more routes people knew about” the industry could create a broader talent pool.

“There’s many people all over the country who’d love to work in financial services, but maybe they don’t see those businesses,” she said. 

“They’re not familiar with them. They’re not on their doorstep. They don’t know anyone who works in them.”

Her comments came after an Efinanciers survey exclusively shared with City A.M. last year found financial services hiring managers’ confidence was at a “concerning” level, with more than 80 per cent of the 465 respondents saying the recruiting landscape was challenging.

The government minister – who began her own career as an apprentice at a car factory, added: “I’ve worked in the financial services industry, it’s a fantastic industry to work in. It has traditionally been sort of London, outer London [based] and I think: get out more.”

Keegan also stressed the role of firms such as JP Morgan, which she noted has offices in Glasgow and Bournemouth, in contributing to the government’s efforts to level up the UK. 

“I think there’s always an opportunity to do more from that perspective, and it really just will help our country and it helps regional inequalities,” she said.

“If you look at our country and compare it to other countries, we do have a bigger regional inequality between the capital city and the surrounding areas of the southeast and the rest of the country and financial services is probably a big driver of that.”

Keegan also vowed she would take “full responsibility” for the government’s free childcare pledge if it failed to be delivered. 

During her morning broadcast round on Sunday, she said she could not guarantee that the policy offer – of 15 weekly hours of free childcare for two-year olds from April in England, going up to 30 hours for babies from nine months by September 2025 –  would be delivered on time.

The scheme has faced issues with funding allocation, staff shortages and technical problems with the access code for parents, as reported by the Guardian.

Asked who would be ultimately to blame, Keegan said: “Me, so I will take full accountability, full responsibility and I’m very confident that I will deliver it.

“But maybe I’m being too specific about the word guarantee. But if I guarantee something, it’s 100 per cent… I know that I can do so.”

Speaking on a phone-in on LBC Radio today, the education secretary failed to give the government a top rating on its performance, saying under Ofsted’s four-point scale from inadequate to outstanding, she would give it ‘good’.

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