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PwC A Level schemes

Applications to PwC A Level schemes five times higher since start of recession

Interest in school leaver entry schemes at professional services firm PwC has risen to five times the levels experienced pre-recession, as school and college leavers consider a wider range of options after their A Level exams.

PwC received 2,352 applications for 100 school and college leaver vacancies in its assurance, tax and consulting practices, which start in autumn 2012, including the industryís first Higher Apprenticeships in tax and consulting.  This signals a 34% rise in applications year on year, and a 464% increase since 2008.  

Increasing demand for A Level schemes is indicative of the increasing demand seen across all programmes.  Amid reports from HESA* that 20,000 graduates are struggling to find paid jobs within six months of leaving university, graduate and intern placement interest also remains strong.  Applications to the firmís school leaver programmes represent 8% of the overall number of student and graduate entry applications, and the school leaver intake represents 6% of PwCís overall student and graduate entry offering this year.    

Gaenor Bagley, PwC partner and Head of People, said:

"Thereís a generation of students weighing up their career and training options differently, whether because of university fees, economic forecasts or graduate unemployment, and employers have to adapt.

"The initial response to our new Higher Apprenticeship, a new addition to our existing school and college leaver programmes, has been even better than expected. Talented students who are clear about their career path wonít compromise on training and development, and this offers them a realistic alternative to get into business straight after A Levels.   We have recruited over 500 school and college leavers over the past ten years and this new framework further cements our commitment to widening access to the professions, while creating a nationally recognised industry qualification.  

"Weíre not seeing a wholesale shift away from graduate entry though.  The interest and demand is a mix of genuine increased interest in new, quality training options with major employers, and also reflective of some students hedging their bets with university places.  Overall, students are looking at their options in their teens, rather than waiting until their third year at university, and for an employer thatís good news.Ē

Richard Irwin, PwC head of student recruitment, said:

"We are clear that anyone with the right talent and transferable skills, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to succeed in our business.  We are working with careers advisers, schools and colleges, training organisations, parents and students to help young people make informed decisions about their future career and the route they take to get there.  

"Pessimistic discussions around the student job market can paralyse peopleís ambitions and their drive to develop themselves. Being despondent is going to get you nowhere.  Commitment to personal development is one of the most important things we look for as an employer and not all transferable skills need to be gained through work.  Sport or volunteering, for example, are great training grounds for leadership and relationship management skills, and applicants are coming to us with a far greater understanding of this than ever before.Ē

Whether students choose to enter employment straight from school or go to university, PwC is offering more opportunity than ever before.  For example, the firmís University Partnership Degree Programme, established in 2002 at Newcastle University, is expanding to Henley Business School at the University of Reading for the first time this autumn.  And the firmís ĎAcademyí for talented first year university students looking to start their job search early is increasing to 300 places in the coming year.  



CASE STUDIES

NEW JOINER STRAIGHT FROM A LEVELS

Andrew Daly joined the brand new tax Higher Apprenticeship in July this year.  He is based in the Belfast office and will be receiving his A Level results on Thursday 16 Aug.  He said:

"I completed my A-levels in Economics, Government and Politics and History and was predicted good grades as well as being offered places at a top university.  I have always wanted to pursue a career with a professional services company, particularly in the business sector, and I believed this was the best start to pursuing my career.
"I will become a fully qualified ATT member much earlier than those going to university, without the student debt.  I certainly donít feel that I will be missing out on "the university experienceĒ as there are huge social opportunities within the company and within our particular department, we have a social committee which arranges events about once a month, or sometimes even more frequently.

"When my studies commence in October this year, I will be given time to attend college for study.  Additionally towards the exam periods in May and November I am given additional time off for studying at home."

JOINED AFTER A LEVELS AND FEW YEARS INTO TRAINING

Danielle Goddard joined the school and college leaver programme in the assurance practice in 2009. She said:

"I left college with A-Levels in Accounting, Business studies and English and an AS level in Spanish.  I was offered places at good universities but I strongly believe this was the right choice for me. Of course everyone is different but I feel confident that my career is progressing quickly, and the feedback and support Iím receiving from my mentors only helps build my confidence.  
 
"I will become a fully qualified ACCA member much earlier than if I had gone to university, I have gained valuable Ďon-the-jobí experience, I have avoided student debt and I have been earning money at the same time.

"I will still get a degree at the end of my ACCA qualification, as I have opted into the Oxford Brookes University scheme, which allows you to gain a BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting on top of your ACCA qualification, and I donít feel like I have missed out on any of the social aspects of university either as the Sheffield office organise plenty of social events.

"Iím based at the PwC Sheffield office, but also spend time out at clientsí sites. Most of my clients are based in Sheffield, but I have a few Ďaway jobsí where I spend a couple of weeks in another city (e.g. London) and stay over in a hotel. There are opportunities to work on clients who are based abroad as well, so it can be quite varied.

"For people who are at the point of considering their options, Iíd advise them to think about what they want a few years from now. If they can see themselves in a career in accountancy, I would definitely recommend this scheme."

PROGRESSED FROM A LEVELS TO SENIOR MANAGER IN NINE YEARS

Daniel Brew joined the firm directly from school in October 2001.  He qualified in 2005, became one of the youngest audit managers ever in the firm in 2007, and was promoted to senior manager in July 2010.  He said:

"About 98% of my school went on to University.  It was seen as the safe option so it was unusual for me not to go, but I didnít want to follow the crowd at 18 and thatís a decision Iíll never regret.  Daring to do something different and finding such a supportive employer has provided me with fantastic opportunities.  

"I joined the assurance practice - specifically corporate audit.  I have remained in Birmingham core assurance throughout my career to date. That said, I have been very fortunate in the breadth of roles and responsibilities given to me by the firm during the past 10 years which have presented a excellent range of opportunities and challenges to assist my personal development across all areas ranging from technical expertise, people management and leadership, business development and client service.

"I believe that the variety and commercial experience gained in early years easily equals the University experiences I didn't have.  For individuals who are focused on a career in business and finance and are willing to work hard to deliver results for themselves and the firm, then this type of arrangement is hugely beneficial."