KPMG Offers New Opportunities for School Leavers

August 18, 2012 /

KPMG has extended its Audit school leavers scheme to include a third university.

From September 2012, the University of Birmingham will join Durham and Exeter Universities in offering students a part-time accountancy degree, in conjunction with part-time working at the accountancy firm.

KPMG’s scheme is the only one in the accountancy sector that combines a job, a university degree with tuition fees paid, a professional accountancy qualification, and a salary.

Over 1500 students applied to the programme this year, which has doubled in size since its launch in 2011 to 150 places. The programme has attracted a wide variety of applicants from across the UK, with two-thirds of school leavers from state schools or Further Education (FE) colleges compared to around half from the traditional graduate entry route. This initiative supports KPMG’s commitment to widening access into the accounting profession.

Marianne Fallon, Head of Corporate Affairs said: “The addition of the University of Birmingham to our Audit school leavers scheme is a real boost as we look to widen the scheme to as many talented students as possible.

At a time when many young people, graduates included, are finding it difficult to gain employment, this programme represents a credible alternative to mainstream university education and provides an attractive route into employment.

“As a global business, it is very important that we cast our net as wide as possible to seek out, and invest in, the very best people that are the future of our business. Increasing social mobility is vital to us. We know that we have to draw on a wider pool of talent if the profession is to stay relevant to society in a rapidly evolving world. We want to widen access into our profession for young people from all backgrounds, which is an on-going challenge, but the models are there to be broken.”

Over the next four years the students will divide their time between university and a job based at one of KPMG‘s 22 UK offices. In addition to a starting salary of around £20,000 (depending on location), KPMG will pay all tuition and university accommodation fees. Following completion of their degree, they will spend two years obtaining a professional accountancy qualification with all exam fees paid by KPMG.

Earlier this year, a survey by KPMG of 1,000 people (500 parents and 500 university students or school leavers), carried out by Populus, found the increase in tuition fees was a significant concern, where over three quarters (77 percent) of parents said that the increase would be a barrier for their child to go to university.

Two thirds of current students said that the increase would have been a barrier to them attending, while 69 percent of school leavers planning to go to university said that the fees could be a barrier. Despite this, a strong majority still felt that going to university is as important as ever – 71 percent overall, and 78 percent of current school leavers.

Among initiatives to attract a more diverse group of students to KPMG, from October twenty school leavers will take up places on a three year programme with the firm’s KPMG’s Risk Consulting practice. Applicants can opt either to work and study towards an accounting qualification with the Association of Accountant Technicians (‘AAT’) or towards a technology qualification.

At the end of the three years, apprentices will be able to elect to continue their studies (for example, to take full chartered accountancy exams) or follow another career path in KPMG.

Marianne Fallon commented: “Employers need to do more to develop programmes that offer credible, quality alternatives to school leavers for whom traditional degree study is not the best match. Much has been done by Government and businesses to open up access to work experience including internships and apprenticeships, and more sponsored degrees and other schemes have sprung into being. As an employer, we have a role to play in helping to meet the costs of higher education – as it is us that benefit from the results, it seems only right that we should also contribute.”


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