Fidelity International has had a presence in Dublin since 2001 but in recent years the company has radically expanded its workforce; increasing numbers from 32 people in 2016 to its current level of over 400 employees.
Given that this rapid expansion coincided with almost full employment in the Irish economy, the business was challenged to recruit and retain talent - so it was keen to explore new options in this context.
Carmel Mitchell, Global Head of Talent, was at the forefront of this recruitment drive and initially Deirdre Giblin at the National College of Ireland (NCI) introduced her to the IFS Apprenticeship Programme in 2016. The organisation took on its first intake of five Apprentices that year and three years later it continues to welcome apprentices, with over 20 employed now.
Carmel is a big fan of the programme. We caught up with her recently to find out how it works within the organisation and why she believes more companies should get on board with it. You can learn more about the programme or register your interest now.
Here’s what Carmel had to say about it.
From an Employers perspective, what are the main advantages of the Programme?
Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way for any organisation to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.
There are numerous benefits that employers can gain from the programme from saving on recruitment costs, improving your services and developing high calibre staff while increasing retention. The NCI and IBEC do all the screening of candidates before selecting suitable candidates. Not only does this save employers time but it also saves on recruitment costs so there’s a saving from the get-go.
Obviously, all the apprentices are keen to have a career in Financial Services and, in our experience, are extremely committed to the programme - they are highly self-motivated individuals which is what you want as an employer. It’s interesting to note that on average they are performing better academically than the full-time students so that just shows you the level of commitment you are getting.
One thing we hadn’t envisaged was the positive impact the Apprentices have had on their mentors. Each one is assigned an internal mentor and the mentors themselves are trained with the appropriate skills to coach and guide them. The mentors really benefited from mentoring the apprentices both in terms of job satisfaction and professional development.
What’s the profile of a typical apprentice?
This is the beauty of it – they come from a whole variety of backgrounds which is great for the company as it brings in a diversity of skillsets and fresh thinking. In general, they’re split into three groups – school leavers, graduates and those moving sectors. One apprentice was a pro-footballer who had an injury and changed career as a result. Many of the apprentices we have now may not have been recruited by Fidelity International through our normal channels, so they give us a different perspective and that’s a big advantage.
With such a varied demographic it also helps us with our diversity targets and to achieve greater gender balance.
How does it work from the perspective of the Apprentice?
Generally they do four days working with us and one day at college. There are two programmes, one is a 2-year Level 6 and these Apprentices are typically paid around €23,000. The second programme is a 4-year Level 8 and they come in on €32,000 so it’s a good starting salary. When you consider the fact that we don’t have recruitment costs and the retention levels are strong – it makes sense commercially.
The great thing about this programme is that it gives us all an opportunity we might not have had – for the apprentice to build out a career in a global business and for us as an organisation to tap into real talent we might have over-looked.
And your final thoughts, Carmel?
For any employer struggling with recruitment and retention – which is most of us in the FS sector - the IFS Apprenticeship Programme gives you access to a whole new pool of talent and fresh thinking within your organisation.
As far as we’re concerned it’s a win-win-win – for us as employers, for the apprentices and for the mentors.
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