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Digital and innovation apprentices to start NatWest programme

NatWest is kicking off a tech apprentice programme, with its digital innovation hub set to play a key role

NatWest has selected 10 apprentices to work for the bank from November, with its apprenticeship programme aiming to widen the search for tech talent.

NatWest’s Digital & Innovation Apprenticeship programme aims to support talented people from disadvantaged backgrounds, through roles at its NatWest Ventures and digital unit alongside a fully funded degree course.

The apprentices were chosen to start the paid programme after a boot camp in September saw them tested for their influencing capabilities and digital skills. The boot camp was supported by several organisations, including Google, CapCo, Salesforce and West Ham United.

The group came from across London, but the bank now plans to expand its apprenticeship programme across the country.

Andy Ellis, head of NatWest Ventures, said: “We are committed to ensuring we provide the learning and coaching our apprentices need so that they can excel in their new roles, while putting them in the best position to be successful.”

The four-year programme is a level 6 qualification with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) degree in Digital & Technology Solutions awarded on successful completion. There will also be placements available with companies such as Microsoft, Google and MasterCard.

The apprentices will receive mentoring from senior executives to support their professional development.

NatWest Ventures, where apprentices will gain experience, is the part of NatWest bank that takes digital businesses from ideas to fully functioning enterprises. In the words of Ellis, it “seeds, incubates and scales up digital businesses” on behalf of the bank. The unit currently has around 400 people work at NatWest Ventures, including engineers, designers, scrum leads and business leads.

Caroline Adair, CEO at Leadership Through Sport & Business, which is providing pastoral care to apprentices, said: “Bright young people from under-represented backgrounds should have access to roles equal to their ambition and ability – it’s good for society, and it’s good for the bottom line too.”

Banks are currently trying to catch-up with the tech startups that are challenging them in financial services. These fintechs, as they are known, are attractive places to work for young digital natives.

For example, Co-operative Bank recently announced a raft of jobs to support the online and digital services it is developing for customer services. The bank said previous banking and IT experience is not a necessity for the roles.

Nationwide Building Society is also looking to widen the net when searching for the right talent with the opening of its first tech centre in London. The digital innovation centre that will house 750 tech professionals is a strategy to access the deep talent pool in the UK capital.

Meanwhile, as part of the its £3bn digital transformation, Lloyds Banking Group announced a tech hub in Edinburgh which will use the latest digital technologies to serve its customers. The bank said this will support the development of technology, skills and talent outside London.

With the policy of the current government set to reduce the talent pool in the UK through ending the free movement of EU citizens, banks will face challenges getting the right staff. The fintech industry has been vocal about the risks to the talent pool due to government policy.

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