Financial capability and young workers

Veda_NatWestGuest blog by Veda Harrison, Public and Consumer Affairs Manager, NatWest.

This week is National Apprenticeship Week, and the Government continues to promote apprenticeships as core to its skills strategy in improving the work prospects of young adults. As a member of the MAS Young Adults Steering Group, NatWest’s contribution to this debate has been to ask: What can policymakers, education and business do to help improve the financial capability of young adults? The result is the NatWest Financial Capability and Young Workers Report.

At NatWest, we believe that financial capability is essential to national prosperity, improving business productivity and employee wellbeing. But for us, financial capability is about more than this. It’s about helping customers – especially tomorrow’s customers – develop better money management skills, knowledge and behaviours, so they are equipped to make the best financial decisions for life.

Young adults, leaving school, college or university and entering the workplace face many challenges and opportunities. But we know that the financial capability of this group is low, and many young adults lack the necessary skills and behaviours to manage their new-found income as they move towards financial independence. Money worries can have a profound impact on their ability to complete their apprenticeships, and they can have a negative impact on the wellbeing of young workers more widely.

Our research identifies that managing money is one of the top three concerns for young apprentices, and that nine in ten employers state that they should have a role to play in improving their young employees’ financial management skills and behaviours. The transition into work is a key teachable moment for young employees. And yet, as this report highlights, more needs to be done to make sure our growing apprentice population are equipped not only with technical skills, but with essential life skills such as financial capability.

This report identifies opportunities for influencing apprentices positively via their workplace. Good advice and support at any stage of life can make a positive difference to an individual’s long-term financial future and it is essential that those starting apprenticeships benefit from it.

The report makes five recommendations:

  1. Financial capability support, training and education should be delivered across all post-16 settings, via colleges, training providers and universities;
  2. Employers to include financial capability training and support as part of their employee induction process;
  3. Financial capability training, support and education should be classified as off Job Training and built in to future apprenticeship standards and curriculum;
  4. Education Select Committee to consider including financial capability within the scope of its current review on Apprenticeships;
  5. Government and business membership groups should proactively communicate apprentice pay rules to employers, with training providers supporting apprentices to understand their rights and responsibilities with regard apprenticeship pay.

As an employer of apprentices and other young workers, with over 450 apprentices currently in post and another 300 starting in 2018, and rated top financial services apprentice employer in 2017 by Rate My Apprenticeship, NatWest calls on policymakers, employers and training providers to recognize the importance of financial capability and provide this vital life skill for the next generation of employees and business leaders.

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