JPMorganChase is helping launch careers in banking and technology for young people in the UK

The firm’s forward-looking initiatives nurture talent and break down barriers to prestigious careers – which is great news for employees, employers and the UK economy.

May 29, 2024

This story originally appeared in the Evening Standard.

At 29, Radhika Chandarana is a senior professional at JPMorganChase, a bank with a large presence in the UK. Chandarana is in her role because she was empowered to leave her home in the Midlands when an opportunity came her way.

She heard from a teacher about a programme run by JPMorganChase to help students cut their teeth in the world of finance. With no contacts in banking, she applied on the spot.

“Outside London, nothing like this existed,” Chandarana told a round table hosted by JPMorganChase in March 2024. The event gathered leaders from public and private sectors to discuss ways to help expand job opportunities to young people and boost the skills needed to prepare for in-demand careers. 

Making connections for success

Chandarana went on to win a place in the inaugural Aspiring Professionals Programme (APP), a two-week work experience programme that took place at JPMorganChase’s Canary Wharf headquarters in 2012. There, she began to build a network and understand how to thrive in a large corporation. 

A JPMorganChase mentor guided her as she applied to university, completed internships and eventually earned a job at the firm in 2016. She’s now a vice president on the global rates team.

Chandarana feels growing up in the Midlands attending an underachieving state school meant she didn’t have easy access to pathways into possible future careers: “I had no [career] advice. London is a barrier to entry to this world – half the kids where I come from couldn’t afford to come here. The more connections you make, the more experience you can get, the more chances you have.”

Breaking down barriers in the financial sector

Today’s young people are ambitious, but many students from low-income situations lack exposure to job readiness resources to help them make informed decisions on career pathways, says Hang Ho, head of international philanthropy at JPMorganChase.

For a number of years, Ho has been leading efforts at the firm to break down barriers to quality careers in finance. The work focuses on helping young people – especially students from less advantaged backgrounds – make informed choices for their education pathways and future career prospects.

JPMorganChase offers a range of career opportunities beyond finance, including roles in technology, digital, data and analytics. Building career pathways for more young people is good for business and for the nation’s economy, says Alison Macpherson, a recruiting leader at JPMorganChase, pictured main image, third from left.

“As a firm, it’s about how we innovate and develop better client solutions as a result of having a cognitively and experientially diverse workforce,” she says.

Tomorrow’s jobs will require today’s young people to be more skilled, data literate and open to learning beyond school, Macpherson says – and employers have a responsibility to help them get there.

Helping young people plan their careers

But students today still don’t face an equal playing field. This is clear from analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), supported by JPMorganChase.

According to the OECD report, low-income students in the UK are less likely to know someone in a high-paying career. This also makes them less likely to shadow a professional or visit a work site, the OECD finds – but it’s precisely these experiences that can raise students’ expectations and prospects.

“The hopes and aspirations of today’s students are shaped by their background,” says Anthony Mann, senior policy analyst at the OECD, “and richer students are more likely to forge high-status careers than their poorer peers.”

Employers such as JPMorganChase, with 22,000 employees in the UK, are playing a key role in helping young people plan their future careers, the OECD analysis found. Schools want this to happen – employers do too – but success requires more than good intentions, delegates at the round table heard.

“Everybody agrees it’s the right thing to do,” says Ho – but schools need more than piecemeal support. JPMorganChase has invested in understanding which of its initiatives connecting schools and employers have the best results among disadvantaged students. Large and small employers face different frictions in administering programmes, and students’ needs differ – a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.

“We need support and funding to build the backbone of the structures that will help employees coordinate opportunities at scale, and help time-pressed teachers understand the breadth of what is out there,” says Ho.

Encouraging disadvantaged students early on

JPMorganChase works with non-profit organisations to support disadvantaged students from secondary school onwards.

“We need to interact very early in their education long before they make crucial GCSE subject choices,” says Macpherson. “We need to spark an interest. They need to see role models to know it’s possible.”

For 12 years, JPMorganChase has worked with the Social Mobility Foundation to expand its geographic reach of the APP, the programme Chandarana took advantage of. Since 2012, the JPMorganChase APP has helped more than 850 students gain crucial work experience, with 94 per cent pursuing higher education, and more than 86 per cent ultimately gaining full-time employment 15 months after graduation, at JPMorganChase and other firms.

JPMorganChase wants to build on its successful pilot scheme to improve patchy career advice across the country and reach thousands more secondary students, and has recently invested an additional £2.5m in UK’s Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC), bringing the total funding to £4.8m. This investment aims to provide targeted career guidance to those facing barriers to progression in education, training or employment. The firm hopes to improve career advice across the country and reach thousands more secondary students.

The goal of levelling the playing field

“Young people need to know the basics,” CEC chair Baroness Nicky Morgan told the round table. “Schools don’t always have access to employers, to people who can tell students how to prepare for a job interview, what to wear, how to behave. Building resilience is terribly important.” 

Partnering with CEC helps fund work that reveals the tangible and long-term benefits of intervening in the career outcomes of disadvantaged young people, says Ho. What’s more, if these strategies can demonstrate value for money, they are more likely to inspire policies and funding that will see them rolled out across the country.

“There’s no silver bullet for promoting social mobility,” adds Ho. “We’re aiming to find evidence about what works because we believe it’s important.”

Learn more about JPMorganChase’s commitment to expanding economic growth opportunities in the United Kingdom here.

JPMorganChase is an Equal Opportunity Employer, including disability/veterans.