Barclays Partners With Northern Powerhouse to Address the Skills Attainment Gap
A Barclays colleague, who had joined the organisation as an apprentice, took centre stage in promoting private sector efforts to close the education and skills gap between north and south this week.
Natasha Lackenby, part of the Operational Communications and Planning team based in Middlesbrough, Teesside, helped launch a new report alongside former Chancellor George Osborne and other political and business leaders. She spoke to pupils at Hurworth School near Darlington about apprenticeship opportunities available to them, at the launch event for the Northern Powerhouse Partnership’s (NPP) Educating the North report.
Responding to the report, which called for businesses to step up engagement with young people to prepare them for work, Barclays pledged to support over 12,000 11+ year olds across the north of England in 2018. This figure, equal to the number of colleagues we employ across the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber, is the latest in a programme of early careers support the bank has delivered across the UK over many years.
Natasha began her career with Barclays in 2013, joining the Higher Apprentice Programme. This gave her experience in new roles every six months for two years, during which time she obtained her degree, a BA (Hons.) in Leadership and Management. Natasha managed branch teams, gaining valuable leadership experience, finishing the programme as assistant branch manager at the Middlesbrough branch before gaining her current, permanent role.
“One of the main benefits is the opportunity to earn whilst you learn, gaining a degree in the process. Balancing a full time degree with employment isn’t easy, but the skills you gain from both are so valuable – because it’s a leadership and management degree, rather than just a financial qualification” she said.
An issue raised by Mr Osborne was ensuring vocational and work-based qualifications receive the recognition and status that academic qualifications receive. Natasha made the point to Hurworth pupils that the apprenticeship route is just as fulfilling an experience as that of her friends who went to university, but has the added benefit of being student debt free.
Ben Murphy from the Barclays Early Careers Team said: “Barclays apprenticeships offer truly lifechanging opportunities to young people who may not otherwise be able to afford them. We’re making a real impact on social mobility – somebody could join Barclays on a foundation apprenticeship programme and there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t progress all the way up to degree programmes. Apprenticeships help us build the skills that Barclays are going to need in the future to be successful.”
Ben remembered Natasha from the apprenticeship programme when she started back in 2013. “It’s great to see Natasha thriving and developing her career, and I hope her talk to students today has inspired the next generation of Barclays apprentices” he said.