School leavers rush to numbercrunching roles

by Mat Allen, PKF

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05 Oct 2011

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SO DOOM AND CONFUSION persist. It seems that, three years after the first, we're on the brink of another banking crisis and I for one am worried about my Dad's pension (although he seems to be more worried about having enough beer money).

But there is at least one group of people for whom this time of year signifies a time of hope, expectation and the start of the next phase of their lives. They are of course all the new joiners to accountancy firms across the country.

Our own intakes started in September and our London office intake is due in next week. I've been rather involved in the recruitment this year, interviewing a number of candidates, which has proved to be a highly enjoyable experience (for me at least, I can't speak for them!). I also managed to volunteer myself to write a new case study for our national graduate recruitment, and also for our AAT joiners (more on these another time).

There are quite a number of people at our firm who have come through the second route and it has always been a popular means of entry, even in times when it was ‘less fashionable'.

In the past couple of years, and particularly this year, there has been a noticeable increase in the proportion of school leavers coming in, and personally I think it's an excellent opportunity for young people (or those looking for a career change) to enter the profession, particularly in this time of high student fees and the squeezed job market for graduates.

It's also good for the firm - after all, they get to train someone for 5 years, rather than three, which can often lead to a great level of technical proficiency and also makes staff resourcing slightly less of a headache in the longer term.

That said, it's not an easy route, and it takes a significant commitment from the entrant - which some school leavers aren't necessarily ready for. I actually have a healthy amount of respect for those who come in at this level, because I know that when I was leaving school there was no way I would have been able to shoulder the responsibility of full time work and study, being into more ‘frivolous' pursuits...

So to those thinking of entering the profession via the non-graduate route, I would say go for it - provided you're fully prepared for the challenge. And to those firms thinking of using it (and I've noticed some of the others have started doing so in earnest) I would also say go for it, but don't forget the graduates. A balance between the two seems to work best.

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