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The Credit Services Association (CSA)
Blog: National Apprenticeship Week 2016: Ever thought about a career in debt collection?
Fiona Macaskill is the Credit Services Association’s Head of Learning & Development. She is responsible for developing the Association's learning and education programmes as part of a comprehensive career and professional development pathway, and to facilitate sharing of best practice in learning and development across the industry.
We’re sure if you asked most young people if they’ve ever considered a career in debt collection, it won’t be something that has crossed their mind. The launch of the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017 provides financial services firms with a huge incentive to develop an apprenticeship scheme if they don’t already have one and we see this as an opportunity for young people in the job market and also an opportunity to position debt collection as a credible and rewarding career path.
Attracting the next generation of talent into the debt collection sector
As an ever-evolving sector that has undergone transformational change over the past few years when it comes to both regulation and practices, it is vital that we expand the pool from which firms recruit their talent so that we have a diverse and capable workforce to take us into the future. This means attracting not only young people but those from other sectors who have the appropriate transferable skills.
The sector has some historical reputational issues so we need better education and engagement on how debt collection is really practiced and how rewarding careers in debt collection can be for people with the natural empathy, emotional intelligence and sensitivity to deal directly with customers in financial difficulty.
Debt collection apprenticeships
As the UK trade body for the debt collection industry, we’re working with our Member companies to launch debt collection apprenticeship schemes for any age group that will incorporate our Level 2 Diploma. Our ‘Award for Working in the Debt Collection Industry’ is an entry level technical qualification that provides the essential practical skills needed to work in the sector. It is based on the most up to date insight on issues such as compliance and customer engagement. We believe that apprenticeship schemes will complement if not replace graduate recruitment programmes for some firms, eventually encompassing degree level professional qualifications like our Level 3 and Level 5 Diplomas.
Awareness of apprenticeships is growing at a rapid rate in financial services and the sector has led the way in developing new standards including Advanced Credit and Collections, and Compliance Professional, which are available for use by firms. The key difference between the new Trailblazer apprenticeships and the old standards is that apprentices will be assessed independently at the end of their apprenticeship and the assessment and grading system will be the same no matter which firm is sponsoring them. This provides the assurance of quality which will make apprenticeships a real alternative to university.