JPMorgan launches UK apprenticeship to target Black non-finance workers

JPMorgan has launched a new apprenticeship to hire Black professionals from other sectors into its UK operation, as large investment banks look to new avenues to bolster ethnic diversity.

The US bank has started a the programme, specifically targeting people who want to switch into financial services, even if they have no experience in industry. Successful candidates will be based in its Bournemouth office, which employs around 4,000 people in support functions including compliance, operations and finance.

Cecil Peters, who leads JPMorgan’s Advancing Black Pathways group in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said that banks need to look to increasingly creative ways to attract more Black talent into banking.

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“We know it’s a really competitive marketplace right now and that a lot of banks are fighting for the same pool of talent,” he said. “This is one of the ways we are doing something different to bring more people into the industry.”

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, which was accelerated last year in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by US police, banks have pledged millions of dollars to Black-owned businesses and to causes aimed at closing the racial wealth gap.

But banks have also rolled out new commitments to bolster the number of Black employees in their ranks, which remains low. At JPMorgan in the US, where banks are required to break out the gender and ethnicity of their workforces, 13% of its employees in 2020 Black, with just 5% in the upper ranks. Goldman Sachs revealed it has only 49 Black employees among its 1,500 top executives in the US, while at Citigroup, four of its 104 most senior leaders are Black.

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While most recruitment initiatives for bolstering Black talent have focused on the junior ranks, JPMorgan’s programme, called The Switch, is aimed at more experienced candidates. Peters pointed to government statistics that show nearly 70% of Black people starting apprenticeships are over 25.

To qualify for the programme, applicants need Ucas equivalent of three C-grades at A-Level. Successful candidates will be put through the CISI Investment Operations Certificate, and will receive a degree from the University of Exeter once they finish the apprenticeship.

“There’s a lot of appetite to extend this. Once we get past this initial first cohort, we’ve already got front office and technology businesses interested in this programme, so we’ll aim to expand and open it up to other locations and other parts of the business,” said Peters.

JPMorgan has taken on over 500 employees through its existing apprenticeships, which have been running for 10 years. Last year, it launched a new programme, which allows candidates to land a high-paying job within its capital markets and dealmaking teams, usually reserved for top university graduates.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Paul Clarke

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