In the week the UK’s sixth formers got their A level results, Grant Thornton UK has announced it is hiring almost four times as many A-level school leavers as it was in 2011
This increased intake, from 19 places in 2011 to 70 places in 2017, has been driven by the firm’s commitment to widening access to the profession, becoming more inclusive and increasing diversity, along with a business need to attract entry-level talent in a competitive market.
School leavers currently represent around a quarter (26%) of Grant Thornton’s total trainee intake. They join the firm for a five-year programme during which they work with a cross-section of clients whilst also studying for professional accountancy qualifications.
School leavers first complete relevant higher apprenticeships before going on to complete professional chartered accountancy qualifications.
Richard Waite, head of resourcing, Grant Thornton UK, said: ‘This entry route has grown enormously in popularity, which is reflected by the huge increase in our school leaver intake over the past six years.’
Grant Thornton’s experience is backed up by new research, commissioned by ACCA, which showed that less than half of young people (43%) think university is the best way to start their career, while 26% value apprenticeships as the better option, and 15% would chose other professional qualifications.
Reza Ali, ACCA’s director of professional education, said: ‘University study is a path which students often feel compelled to take. This path may not always be the best option for school leavers, due to the cost of going to university; a need to be at home to support a family member or the need to work and earn a living.
‘ACCA believes in diverse opportunities and this research highlights the importance in students finding their most suitable path. Traditional routes of success, such as going to university are still popular, but this doesn’t mean one should rule out other options such as apprenticeships or professional qualifications.’
The research also suggests young people’s opinions on skill-set seem to reflect the changing attitudes towards traditional forms of study. Almost half (47%) rate confidence as the most important skill in being successful in business in comparison to 36% who believe it is intelligence.
Enjoyment seems to be the main motivation for career choice, as 58% of young people say having a career they enjoy is their top priority, while a fifth say money is the most important factor when looking for a career.