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Barclays is great at offering people a start

17 September 2018

The Barclays Foundation Apprenticeship is open to everyone, regardless of age or working background. We talk to a graduate of the programme, Jack Curtis, about the wealth of opportunities it offered him – and Catherine Meldon, Director at Barclays, explains why the bank is “committed to giving career opportunities” to everyone, regardless of age or background.

“I’ve done a lot of different things, from training to be a fitness instructor to studying aeronautical engineering. But none were really for me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do before I joined Barclays.”

Like many young people, Jack Curtis wasn’t sure what direction he was heading in. He had worked in a variety of roles – and taken various courses – but was yet to find a position that really excited him. Then, three and a half years ago, he joined the Barclays Foundation Apprenticeship programme, and it all began to change.

“Straight away I was excited at the prospect of working for Barclays,” says Jack. “It’s a blue chip company and I knew it was a great opportunity.”

Across Barclays we want the right people in the right roles – that is why we offer apprenticeship opportunities to everyone

Unlike most apprenticeships, Barclays offers candidates a choice of how they’d like to apply: they can receive five weeks of external training or be fast-tracked to the interview stage, both of which include a one-week work placement at Barclays before the interview. Jack went for the latter, a decision he says helped him get the job.

“I learnt so much about the company on my work placement. By the time it came to the interview, I was really confident,” says Jack.

“It’s about making it easier for the customer”

Three and a half years later and Jack is still with the bank, working as an Omni Go-To Specialist, dealing with customer enquiries at a Barclays contact centre in his hometown of Sunderland. He’s responsible for the digital side of customer service, with duties including communicating with customers over online platforms such as mobile banking and live chat.

With locations around the world, the contact centres are a key component in the bank’s aim to offer customers a seamless service, regardless of how they interact with Barclays.

Jack says: “People can talk to us about anything, using a variety of methods – such as Twitter, Facebook chat or live video banking. It’s about making it easy for the customer.”

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Catherine Meldon, Director at Barclays, says the bank is “very proud” of its Foundation Apprenticeships, adding: “They are a key part of our recruitment strategy, offering career opportunities to our local communities – and helping as many people as possible find the right job at Barclays.”

She added: “There is a high percentage of people, across all demographics, who are unemployed – as well as a fundamental gap in NVQ Level 3 skills across all ages. We are committed to giving career opportunities back to our local communities.”

Jack is one of many employees to benefit from the apprenticeships. In the three years the programme has been running across Barclays, just under 500 Foundation Apprentices have been hired – and in the second half of 2018, the bank announced a pilot scheme to fill new retail entry-level roles at the Sunderland and Liverpool contact centres with apprentices ahead of other candidates.

It’s not just for young people. Applications are open to any individual regardless of their age or employment background – and all recruits will gain a Foundation Apprenticeship NVQ qualification from the programme.

“Across Barclays we want the right people in the right roles, and apprenticeships play a big part in this,” says Catherine. “That’s why we offer apprenticeship opportunities to everyone.”

“Straight away I was excited about working for Barclays. It’s a blue chip company and I knew it was a great opportunity”

“We constantly challenge our thinking”

As well as actively encouraging applicants from all working backgrounds and ages, the bank is also driving diversity and inclusion through the apprenticeship programme.

“Diversity and inclusion is so important to ensure we understand our customers better,” says Catherine. “A diverse workforce offers different points of views, experience and perspectives that ensure we are constantly challenging our thinking and approach.

“Driving a truly inclusive culture means our colleagues can be themselves at work, ensuring they feel supported and able to do their job to the best of their ability.”

For Jack, the Foundation Apprenticeship has offered him opportunities that he otherwise would not have had.

“Since working here I’ve gained invaluable qualifications in customer service at no cost to myself,” Jack says. “There are so many opportunities and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a job. Barclays is great at offering people a start.”

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