By Ajay Vij, Senior Vice President and Industry Head of Financial Services at Infosys
It’s no question that the Kalifa Review is well overdue. For many years we have partnered with organisations from across the financial services industry, from digital natives through to large incumbents, and have seen first-hand the potential for greater competition and leadership, with the right business environment and investment in people.
But, it’s also no secret that the UK has suffered from a significant digital skills gap for over ten years, and the events of the past year have only proven to widen it further. In fact, what the Kalifa Review has underscored is just how critical upskilling and reskilling people of all ages is for the UK to not only retain its leadership in fintech, but to also create job opportunities and stability for business at a time of real economic uncertainty and technological change.
Technology is radically changing the nature of work and driving the demand for diverse skill sets as roles evolve and new roles emerge. To put that into context, the Confederation of British Industry estimates that 90% of the UK workforce will need to be reskilled by 2030. As I see it the Review has reinforced the financial services sector as the ideal candidate to lead the charge in re-skilling, showing wider industry how to navigate the demands of a turbulent economy, embrace the potential of next generation technologies and thrive in the fourth industrial revolution.
The first step financial services organizations must take is to embrace a culture of life-long learning. That means not only learning to learn, but also to unlearn and relearn. An essential part of that is taking on responsibility as an educator, developing a talent ecosystem that continually serves the workforce by providing the resources, tools, and network of knowledge that can be tapped in to at any time. We have already seen how a major financial group has embraced our learning platform to maintain competitive edge, ensuring that talent can keep pace with technologies such as automation, AI and Machine learning that are enabling them to get to market faster with new products and services.
Studies have also shown that continued learning directly correlates to job satisfaction, particularly among the younger generations who relish the opportunity to take on new challenges and embrace new technologies. Providing upskilling opportunities through training and development will ensure that the industry is more likely to retain and attract top talent so that it doesn’t risk facing a retention challenge in the future.
The second step is to continually engage with the education sector and provide learning opportunities for under-graduates. The Review highlighted that fintech leaders aren’t confident that today’s universities are equipping graduates with the skills they need for now and the future. But the onus can’t be put solely on educational institutions to provide that level of understanding and skill. Organizations need to be more active in participating in mentorship schemes and offering apprenticeships that enable young people to tap into experienced and diverse professionals from across the industry, whether they be a senior banker, CIO at a wealth management company or insurance app developer.
I’ve seen first-hand the importance and value of engaging in university partnerships to help develop the skills that have led to digital services jobs for many alumni . Over the past 21 years we have built strong relationships across Europe, especially in the UK with the likes of Imperial College London and UCL. These students have helped to redefine and bring a new perspective to many high-priority projects, in turn they have gained valuable work experience learning from experts in their field.
The Kalifa Review has laid bare the huge potential of how strengthening the fintech industry can accelerate the UK economy at such a crucial time when the UK is just starting to find its feet as an independent nation on the world stage. But it’s critical to not let this momentum subside. The fintech industry cannot wait for direction, there are actions that can be taken now to stimulate growth and spark a ripple effect across industries. The financial services sector must lead the charge for economic recovery, and that starts with upskilling and reskilling talent.