The first ever group of debt collection apprentices in the UK have completed their training at Leeds City College, in a scheme the college says “removed the typical stereotypes” associated with the profession.
The apprenticeship is a first for the financial services industry and was set up as a partnership between Firstlocate, which employs the learners, Leeds City College, as well as the National Skills Academy for Financial Services and the Credit Services Association (CSA).
The first four apprentices were taken on by Firstlocate, which provides trace and debt collection services, in March. The group have undergone a combination of in-house training, classroom delivery by the CSA, and training and assessment by the college. Having completed their training, they have all since found work in the industry.
The course – an intermediate apprenticeship in providing financial services debt collection – also saw them gain a technical certificate for working in the debt collection industry, which is a new qualification developed by the CSA.
The college said it had initially faced a shortage of NVQ assessors in the financial services sector, but had provided assessing qualifications to Firstlocate staff to address this.
Suzanne Fenton, work-based learning manager for Leeds City College, said the apprenticeship had faced “the typical stereotypes associated with debt collection and demonstrated that it is a valid profession with excellent career prospects”.
“It is a growing industry and this apprenticeship is a great opportunity for young people to start their careers,” she said.
Firstlocate learning and development manager Chris Shaw said the scheme had been “an overwhelming success for the apprentices, Firstlocate and everyone involved”.
“I am now looking forward to building this programme across all of our operational sites and am keen to work with the CSA to share my experiences for fellow member organisations, so this programme can be rolled out nationally,” he added.
Louis Smith, 18, had applied for 90 jobs before starting the apprenticeship. He said the qualification had “changed [his] life”.
“Accounting and finance appealed to me, as well as earning while I learn. I liked the idea of working with numbers and wanted to develop practical experience, rather than being sat in a classroom all the time.”