Accountancy is one of the professions to come under fire in a new analysis of progress in social mobility in the jobs market in the government's Social Mobility Commission & Child Poverty Commissions' annual report.
The report, State of the nation 2013: social mobility and child poverty in Great Britain says that parts of the financial services industry have intensified efforts over recent years to encourage greater social mobility, but progress overall is too slow.
It concludes by saying: 'The Commission believes there is scope within financial services to do much more. The journey there has barely begun. It needs to speed up.'
It singles out a number of initiatives by accountancy institutes and individual firms for praise, particularly with regards to work in schools, and states: 'Accountancy has begun to respond to the challenge, with professional bodies such as ICAEW and AAT playing a leading role in driving forward the issue. Some individual firms, such as KPMG, Ernst &Young and PWC have established themselves as leaders in this area of diversity.'
The report says what it terms 'the qualifications arms-race' has virtually put an end to non-graduate entrance into the professions. It states that while the Higher Apprenticeship in Professional Services launched in April 2013 is recognised as 'a good start' in providing an alternative route into accountancy, 'it will need further scaling up to really achieve impact'
Paul Cleal, partner, PwC, who is a member of Commission, said: 'Making real progress on social mobility means for some companies, challenging long held beliefs on measurement and assessment, if they don't want to miss out on talented graduates who might not have gone to the best performing schools, and consequently may not have the best A level results.'
Next week sees the first ever Professions Week, which runs from 21 to 27 October 2013 and is designed to increase awareness about the range and variety of potential employment options in areas including accountancy. The initiative has the backing of the accounting professional bodies, and will see a number of information events and school visits.