Students in a pilot programme in years 13 and 14 from Derry and Strabane have been encouraged to consider financial services as a career, after 17 out of 18 passed the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) level 2 Fundamentals of Financial Services exam – a pass rate of 94%.
The programme, a partnership between the CISI and Derry City and Strabane District Council, allows students, sponsored by the CISI’s Educational Trust and supported by financial services firm FinTrU, to study and sit the exam for free.
Between November 2020 and June 2021, 20 students – 2 of whom are still to take the exam – from four post primary schools received remote teaching sessions from Matt Bolton, Teaching & Learning Specialist at the CISI. The four participating schools were: Castlederg High School, Lumen Christi College, St Columb's College and Strabane Academy.
Students achieved the 94% pass rate despite challenges thrown up by the pandemic, including a lack of physical venues to sit the exam in and the fact that, as they were aged under 18, remote invigilation was not an option for them. Eventually, CISI member firm FinTrU stepped in to help.
Colin Anderson, Chartered MCSI, Client Relationship Manager for Scotland & Northern Ireland (left) said : “FinTrU opened its centre in Derry, provided invigilators, and worked incredibly hard to become an accredited venue for CISI exams, an especially tricky task during the pandemic.
“This programme and the support of FinTrU demonstrates the best of the CISI community, working together to help the next generation access the financial services sector and increase diversity in the talent pipeline. We are so pleased the students did so well and wish them the best for their future.”
Student feedback has been positive, with two saying that they can now see themselves working in the sector in future.
The programme will run again for the next academic year and will include an exciting initiative to run new employability workshops to further develop the skills students need to start a career in financial services.
Tina Gillespie, Skills Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) (right), said: “We are indebted to City of London who identified an opportunity to link DCSDC with the CISI to deliver their qualifications to our students, and we hope to strengthen these links going forward into the next academic year. This pilot was a unique opportunity to equip students with skills which are relevant and in demand in terms of securing future employment in the ICT and fintech sectors, both of which are among the fastest growing industries in the North West. Huge congratulations to the students involved.”
Greg McCann, head of FinTrU North West (left), said: “As a leading employer in the North West, we were more than happy to take this opportunity to invest in the local talent in the schools in the area to open up their horizons to financial services. We enjoy an excellent partnership with both CISI and the Derry City and Strabane District Council, and these exams represent a fantastic avenue into a new and exciting career for the students.”
Matt Bolton, CISI Teaching & Learning Specialist (right) also added: “It has been a privilege to see so many bright young people take the opportunity to learn more about the financial services profession. The commitment and enthusiasm shown by students to take on board something outside of their core studies, in extremely challenging times, has been amazing. A huge thank-you needs to go to Derry and Strabane Council for liaising with local schools to promote the opportunity, as well as FinTrU, who stepped-in to save the day with regards to the exam. We are looking forward to running a similar programme in the new academic year.”
The hope is to build on this initial success with an ongoing programme that can potentially be extended to all schools within the Derry City and Strabane region.