JPMorgan is hiring the UK’s first investment banking apprentices, applying the on-the-job training method previously reserved for hairdressing and car mechanics to roles on its capital markets and dealmaking teams.

The four-year programme includes funding to complete a degree in applied finance at the University of Exeter, one of the Russell Group of leading British academic institutions.

The US bank’s move illustrates a shift in the use of apprenticeships by employers in the UK. While the total number of apprenticeship starts has been declining for several years, new schemes are being created to attract school leavers to professional roles or provide management training for senior executives.

JPMorgan’s investment banking apprentices will join about 70 school leavers currently completing financial services and technology degree apprenticeship programmes at the bank’s Bournemouth, Glasgow and London offices. By next year, it hopes to have 120 people on these apprenticeships schemes.

“The success of our business depends on diversity of thought,” said Vis Raghavan, JPMorgan’s chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“Opening up different pathways into JPMorgan is a fundamental part of that, and we have no doubt that the expansion of our apprenticeship programme into front-office investment banking groups will mean we can attract even stronger candidates.”

A catalyst for the creation of new schemes has been the apprenticeship levy, which forces large employers in the UK to set aside an equivalent of 0.5 per cent of their wage bill to spend on approved apprenticeship programmes.

If the money is not spent within two years, it is taken as tax by the Treasury, nudging companies that previously would not have considered hiring apprentices to use the programme to train recruits in the skills they need.

It has generated opportunities for institutions like the University of Exeter, which, alongside its undergraduate programmes, teaches levy-funded degree apprentices for financial services companies, including HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Mastercard and Bloomberg.

Exeter’s apprentice intake also includes 68 JPMorgan executives, who are completing an MBA at the university’s business school as part of the senior leadership apprenticeship.

The latest apprenticeship statistics for England published by the Department for Education showed that between March 23 and July 31 the number of new apprenticeships started was 47.2 per cent lower than the same period in 2019.

The numbers being added are dominated by apprenticeships in business, administration, law, public services and healthcare roles. Together these accounted for 69.3 per cent of new apprenticeships created in the 2019/20 financial year.

Higher apprenticeships, taught at degree level and above, accounted for 31.5 per cent of apprenticeship starts during the same period, up from 17.4 per cent in 2018/19.

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