Goldman Sachs starts trading floor apprenticeship scheme to boost diversity

Paid on-the-job learning and study plan at investment bank part of push to attract trainees from less-affluent backgrounds

Last modified on Sun 12 Dec 2021 13.01 EST

Goldman Sachs will start training apprentices directly on its London trading floor for the first time next year, feeding into wider efforts to boost social mobility across the UK’s financial sector.

The programme, which is part of an apprenticeship scheme launched in partnership with Queen Mary University of London, will combine paid on-the-job training with study over four years, offering students a chance to gain hands-on experience in a sector still struggling to attract candidates from less-affluent backgrounds.

The programme, which opens for recruitment on Monday, comes nearly a year after the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launched an independent taskforce to address a lack of socioeconomic diversity across financial and professional services, after research found that just under half of senior City roles were held by white men who attended an independent or selective state school.

A 2019 study by KPMG also found that 41% of people working in finance across the UK had parents in the same sector, far higher than the national average of 12%, raising concerns about a lack of access to City roles for less-privileged students.

“As an industry, we are still not doing a good enough job at appealing to students from a more diverse socioeconomic background,” Daniel Freckleton, a managing director in global markets at Goldman Sachs, said.

“There is of course an interplay between socio-economic background and ethnic minorities, so working to improve social mobility in our recruitment process is likely to have knock-on benefits to our racial diversity too,” he added. Freckleton is one of the few black managing directors on the the bank’s London trading floor. He is the main sponsor of the apprenticeship scheme.

While some banks have launched apprenticeship schemes in the UK, most have been focused on back-office roles. Goldman’s programme is believed to be the first scheme aimed at bringing trainees directly on to the trading floor of an investment bank.

The Goldman scheme will start by selecting 10 candidates to start the scheme in September 2022, with an opportunity to increase its cohort in following years. Students will earn a “competitive” annual salary alongside their studies and will be eligible for a bonus, helping avoid student debt, by working five days a week on the trading floor.

They will also study at Queen Mary’s school of economics and finance for two one-week “teaching sprints” per semester. The academic programme will consist of lectures and assessments, covering topics ranging from asset pricing to machine learning.

Goldman will pay for relocation and equipment such as books and laptops as needed, to help students who might otherwise struggle to cover the costs of formal training. Candidates will also be eligible for a full-time role at Goldman at the end of their course.

Recruitment is open to students from all educational backgrounds, but will be broadly aimed at people coming from state education.

“We want to attract the brightest and best students from as diverse a talent pool as possible – that’s diversity of socio-economic background as much as anything else,” Freckleton said.

“Unfortunately, we’re currently missing out on a lot of this talent, either because students are put off by the traditional recruitment process, the financial barriers of university study, or simply because they are not aware of the kinds of jobs that Goldman has to offer them.”

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