This morning I joined David Lammy and Baroness Kramer in a cross-party effort to ensure some of our brightest talents reach their full potential.
The City Talent Initiative, organised by the Social Mobility Foundation, is an exciting new programme which supports high-achieving youngsters from low-income backgrounds in accessing leading City firms.
The CTI programme was initiated by BRUIN Financial, a leading city head hunter, following a challenge from David Lammy to break down the barriers to entry for talented young people who lack access to a vast range of career opportunities. With little or no vital social capital, such as access to opportunities through connected friends and family, many of the best and brightest from British society miss out on opportunities.
In response, BRUIN invited a number of prestigious firms to discuss a solution that the City could offer and, with the Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) as programme manager, CTI was born.
I was invited by David to lend my support as a Conservative MP, with Baroness Kramer representing the Liberal Democrats, to ensure that this was seen firmly as a non-partisan initiative.
Attending the launch at One Great George Street, I was enormously impressed by the young candidates who are to benefit from this new initiative. As David said in his speech, this initiative is not about making concessions for the less advantaged. In a competitive, global economy, City firms must be unashamedly elitist. But membership of that elite must be determined by talent and potential, not by who has the best contacts. Anyone listening to the young people who spoke at the launch could not fail to see that they have the necessary talent. What they lack too often is the confidence to develop that talent and the contacts to get into the right firms. The CTI is designed to address both of those issues.
Upon joining the programme, successful applicants are matched with a mentor at the firm where they will undertake a summer internship. The mentor helps them prepare for that internship and guides them through their university choices and the application process, sharing their own experiences and knowledge.
During the internships, students gain a real insight into the professional world. As they move into university, they will continue to be supported by the SMF and their mentor. If they perform, they will be invited to return to their host firm for longer, paid internships for each year they are studying.
Sponsoring firms include Ernst & Young, JP Morgan, Strutt & Parker and RBS.
To qualify for the programme, students must:
- Be in Year 12 (16-17 years old)
- Be predicted at least ABB at A-Level
- Have at least five A grades at GCSE
- Be eligible for free school meals (household income less than £16,190)
- Be the first generation in their family to attend university, having attended a state school where 30% or more students are eligible for free school meals.
Students must also be interested in accountancy, banking and finance or business.
If any City firms or students in the constituency are interested in learning more about the programme, please drop me a line.