The aim of my role is to create opportunity for talented graduates to immerse themselves in the field of Financial Services & Data/AI, to build the technical and professional skills required for them to excel in their placements, giving them the bedrock to launch their careers.
Recently, I’ve been busy working with USW and the programme team on the Data/AI Fast-Track Graduate Programme, due to launch in January 2021. This inaugural programme is just 8 months duration and starts with a 3.5 week Bootcamp, where graduates are given a springboard to Data/AI, covering 2 modules of the Post Graduate Diploma in Data/AI, prior to them joining their employer placements.
Working with the consortium employers, we have been able to establish the fundamental skills that graduates will benefit from prior to joining the programme. As a consequence we have given graduates access to DataCamp and Udemy, along with a bespoke learning pathway, so they can fully prepare in advance and get off to the best start.
I caught up with some of the graduates who have secured a place on the Data/AI Fast-Track Graduate Programme to get their thoughts.
“Before joining the programme, I was only able to study the wonders of data science across a few university modules and free online courses. Now, thanks to vast online resources, a comprehensive qualification and a 7-month placement, I’ll have the whole industry at my fingertips!” Oliver Johnson
“The experience so far of the Data/AI Fast-Track Programme has been excellent with so much experience gained from the virtual assessment day and talking directly to the programme organisers to learn more about the programme itself. I am excited to join and participate in such an opportunity and I’m eager to know more about Data and AI, plus I want to see if I can create my own AI”. Alex Blewitt
“I feel fortunate enough to have been selected to participate with the programme at WCCF. A program which provides the opportunity to grow skills in data science, both practically through a work placement, as well as theoretically via studies. It has the balance that would give any successful candidate the solid foundations to grow exponentially.” Usmann Khan
Another key objective of mine is the evaluation of our programmes performance, through regular monitoring & evaluation using a variety of internal and external surveys, 1-1’s and feedback. This qualitative and quantitative data is crucial in ensuring our programme’s continue to be ‘best in class’ and in determining the options for future programmes.
COVID-19 has impacted us all over the past several months, and particularly the graduates who have had to adapt to new ways of working (with some moving to new organisations in June 2020), whilst completing MSc learning virtually. We also have several international graduates who have been living in isolation for much of the lockdown periods and so wellbeing has been at the top of our agenda over recent months.
Employers across the Consortium have been absolutely amazing in supporting the graduates to ensure they are getting the best from their placements. This is reflected in the feedback from the survey.
Here are some verbatim statements from graduates on our current Financial Services Graduate Programme, taken from the most recent survey –
What is surprising you most about your current placement?
“How well me and my team get along and how some of the theories I studied in university work in practice.”
“Seeing a company that truly lives up to the claims that in regards to the level of care and support of their staff.”.
“How different finance is to what I learnt at university.”
“The amount of patience and understanding given to me by my team when I require support. They are aware how difficult it is to settle into a team when working from home throughout the entire placement.”
What are the 3 best things about the Graduate Programme?
“The opportunity to get involved in roles that do not otherwise offer an entry level option and the chance to rotate and experience different jobs. Possibility to obtain a MSc degree alongside full-time employment”.
“Rotations, on the job experience and fully funded MSc.”
“The range of different graduates with different aspirations. The responsibility delegated during placements. Fast-tracking my career, gaining lots of knowledge in a very short space of time.”
Our programme team, whilst focusing on the here and now is constantly evolving, looking ahead and planning forthcoming programmes. With this in mind, I have been consulting with members of the employer consortium to establish needs and wants required from the next Financial Services Graduate Programme which is due to launch in September 2021.
Data & Fintech, Customer Insights & Innovation in Financial Services and Strategy & Business Transformation have stood out as key requirements. We are now tendering for the MSc qualification, looking for a provider who will deliver ‘best in class’ learning, through innovation, engagement and state of the art learning pathways.
Well done to all the graduates for their hard work and commitment this year, wishing you all a Happy Christmas and an even happier 2021!