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Graduate Programme Wales - Where it all began

Graduate Programme Wales - Where it all Began...

Like most great ideas, Graduate Programme Wales was started as a solution to a growing problem.

There was a shortage of up-and-coming talent within the financial services sector in Wales. The number of people choosing to start a career in the sector was decreasing year on year and those that did were leaving Cardiff for larger cities such as London and Manchester.

Leaders within the financial sector in Wales, including Anne Middleton, HR Manager (UK and Ireland) at Atradius, realised that something needed to be done to attract graduate talent to the industry and to incentivise them to stay in Wales.

The idea of a rotational financial services graduate programme, with the opportunity to work and study alongside a fully funded Masters was born. It started as a pilot scheme with a handful of graduates and 4 employers, Atradius, Admiral, Composite Legal and Stellantis (formally Vauxhall Finance).

The pilot scheme proved that the idea was not only beneficial to graduates and employers, but also had fantastic benefits for Wales when it came to inward investment.

Matt Wintle, Head of Talent Acquisition and Development at Admiral is someone who has championed the Programme from the beginning. He said:

“At Admiral we have always been a great supporter of Graduate Programme Wales. We have benefited from many excellent candidates over the years. We are also proud to support a scheme with the ambition of growing and keeping core skills in Wales. We look forward to a continued long and fruitful relationship with the scheme.”

Over the next few years and with funding from the Welsh European Funding Office, the Programme evolved to include a fast track data/AI option, to also address skills shortages in this sector. In total we have delivered 9 programmes, we have engaged with 256 graduates, 2 universities (University of South Wales and University of Gloucester) and 31 employers which are some of Wales’ largest financial organisations and many ambitious home-grown firms.

The Programme has been dubbed pioneering by industry experts and has won multiple awards, cementing its value and attracting a diverse range of top graduate talent into the sector.

Founding partner Anne Middleton said: “Atradius is proud to have been involved with the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme right from the start.  From humble beginnings we continue to be delighted to be part of what has become a triple award winning programme.  More importantly, the graduates have become a high quality talent pool for our organisation, the Financial Services sector and the South Wales region.

With the excellent support provided by Cnect Wales we look forward to many more years of supporting future generations of talented graduates to develop and grow their skills and careers in Wales.”

However, with changes to funding channels following Brexit, the future of the Programme in its current form is uncertain.

Sue Gunning, HR Director (UK and Poland) at Stellantis, another founding member of the programme reflects on its success.

“Stellantis takes immense pride in its role as a founding member of this unique program, empowering Welsh graduates to seize opportunities for experience and accomplishment within the financial services sector in Wales.

At the heart of this success is a combination of passion, conviction, and a dedicated commitment to cultivating local talent, nurturing prospective leaders and industry professionals.

Over the last 10 years, the program has gone from strength to strength, with graduates successfully securing full-time positions within the financial services sector. Stellantis has been a cornerstone, employing fifteen graduates, a number of whom have risen to senior positions within our organisation, underscoring the program’s effectiveness.”

Thank you to Anne who had the vision and ran with it and to every employer and stakeholder who has supported us along the way. As we look to the future and consider all funding options, we welcome support from the private sector to help up continue with this groundbreaking programme.


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