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RBS CEO: Apprentices need right attitude more than skills

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Apprentices having the right attitude towards work is more important than skills, according to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) chief executive Ross McEwan.

Speaking at the bank’s Early Careers event in Bishopsgate, London, McEwan said: “Skills can be built later. Ability is good, but having the right attitude should come first."

He added: “It’s great when you have young people asking ‘why is it done that way?’ I would encourage any business to bring that energy into their company, and see the change it can bring.

“Traditionally young people often came to RBS after graduating, and while we want to still encourage that we think we can tap into a whole new pool of talent through offering apprenticeships right across the country,” he added.

RBS will be taking on 400 new apprentices in October who will work across the business in areas such as relationship management, customer service, IT and human resources. The apprenticeships will last between one and two years, and will lead to a full-time, permanent contract with the bank.

Skills minister Nick Boles said schemes like this will help the government reach its target of three million new apprenticeships by the end of this parliamentary term. “You can now do an apprenticeship to become a banker, a nurse, a journalist; in fact, the only profession you can’t do an apprenticeship in is mine,” he said.

“With employers like RBS investing in apprenticeships we are on course to deliver three million apprenticeships by 2020.”

Sue Husband, director of apprenticeships and delivery service at the Skills Funding Agency, said that she was impressed by the confidence, enthusiasm and passion of RBS apprentices. “This has further reinforced my belief that people like me are not the greatest advocates of apprenticeships. We need to let them speak up," she said. 

McEwan offered advice to other UK organisations. “In the ever-evolving climate in which we operate Britain needs this talent, for vibrancy, and to make it a great place to do business,” he said.