We sat down with Mark Homans, Senior Relationship Director at Santander UK, to talk about the 25 year old Santander Universities Programme at FinTECHTalents 2019.
Watch the video now:
Can you tell us about the Santander Universities Programme?
Santander Universities has been globally established now for 25 years. The programme was established by our chairman, Ana Botín, and essentially it was designed to support people all over the world to have transformative experiences in higher education.
Here in the UK the programme has been running now for 12 years. We actually work with 86 universities across the UK and we aim to stimulate activity that supports entrepreneurship, education and employability across our partnerships. So, for us to be invited to today was an amazing opportunity to come and connect FinTechs with higher education and help shape opportunities for students and graduates in the workplace.
Can you give us some examples of the programmes you have in place?
Our purpose really is to help activity in three key areas.
In terms of education, we provide funding to support scholarships and UK students having external mobility trips outside of the UK. We very much focus on helping students from a widening participation and BAME background. It is very much about access to networks, access to opportunities that they wouldn’t ordinarily have.
In the entrepreneurship space we provide equity free seed funding to businesses. So, very much like a lot of the FinTechs helping them in the early part of their journey to grow and to prosper.
And importantly from an employability perspective, we’ve actually run an internship scheme now for a number of years where we’ve actually helped over 12,000 students have an employment experience. Really pleasingly, 50% of those have gone on to work in the SME that they were employed in.
An opportunity to connect FinTechs with students and higher education today for us as the university’s program has been a real opportunity and a real eye-opener into what is a really exciting sector.
Is your focus on digital skills?
For us it is about creating transformative experiences across all sectors and all skill sets. We’ve got certain partners that are more focused on certain skill set development. I think as a bank, obviously where we are it’s very important to us when we think about strategic future workforce planning, to look at skills that sit in the big data, and computer science arenas. STEM subjects are particularly important. I think for us to be able to understand the needs of businesses the opportunities that universities provide and to be able to almost broker those contact points is really key.
Are the benefits of the programme made available to students of all backgrounds?
So, we work with 86 [universities] and that varies from the Russell Group through to Post 92s and others. I think what’s really unique about our program, whilst we’ve got a broad strategic vision for supporting education, entrepreneurship and employ-ability, we very much work with our partners to understand that their needs.
We work with the Vice Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor senior leadership team and then all of the ‘heads-of’ to really tailor how our money is spent to really add as much value as possible. The needs of higher education vary wildly depending on where they’re at and their own strategic mission. For us we’re really proud of the fact that our partnerships are long-established. It is a partnership, so it’s about how we can all drive value for each other. I think over a number of years we’ve built trust in the sector that allows talent to transition into vocation and fundamentally for the benefit of FinTech and another sectors.
Do you focus on non-traditional employment paths?
The bank recently partnered with Nottingham Trent University to actually spend their own apprenticeship levy. It’s very much focused on our internal colleagues and how we invest in them to diversify their skill set. In many cases it’s helping people to pivot within their careers. In other cases, it’s about people doing things that they’re interested in and wanting to grow. With very much with a lens over it, which is about what does our future strategic workforce plan look like?
We live in a world that’s changing at pace and for all of us it’s about refreshing skillset and making sure that we can continue to drive value for the organisations that we work for. Whether that’s Santander, whether that’s one of the FinTech’s here today, fundamentally it’s exciting for all of us to be at this age of digital explosion and pace of growth and I think the levies are really important.
I think vocational experiences is key as well as academic experience, you know, the two often work well together. I’m a big believer in also the vocational, really I think is very important.