National Apprenticeship Week starts today, but City big-guns have been investing in young talent for years

Edith Hancock
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David Pinchin (left) and Lord O'Neill back apprenticeships

Today marks the start of National Apprenticeship Week, when London’s businesses raise awareness of the opportunities open to aspiring financiers and school-leavers. Apprentice programmes may be making headlines this week but the founder of one City-based charity says that the Square Mile’s top dogs have been investing in youngsters for years.

David Pinchin, who founded international broker Tradition Financial Services before leaving the City in 2008, launched Leadership Through Sport in 2012, an apprenticeship charity for disadvantaged school-leavers, with the help of City grandees Jim O’Neil and Michael Spencer.

Pinchin told the Capitalist that the pair match-funded his charity, which puts youngsters in placements at the likes of RBS, Barclays and Macquarie Group on a living-wage, and Michael Spencer, head of financial firm Icap, continues to support the cause as one of the charity's biggest recruiters.

“In the initial stages it was difficult to get people to change their minds about apprenticeships. But with the help of recruiters like ICAP, City firms are really starting to see it as a talent pipeline.”

Spencer, best-known as the head of international brokerage ICAP, helped to support Leadership Through Sport by setting aside a portion of the £12.75m raised at the firm’s annual charity day in 2011. Lord O’Neil personally donated a substantial five-figure sum to the charity, which teaches students the essential skills for a career in finance through a mix of mentoring and football coaching.

The charity also partners with a handful of Premiership league football teams including West Ham, Aston Villa and Chelsea to harness the leadership potential of the UK’s inner-city teens.

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