THE NUMBER of school leavers and graduates vying for a career at one of the Big For has soared, according to figures from PwC and EY.
PwC said it received record levels of interest for graduate roles with applications more than tripling from 7,003 at the start of the financial crisis in 2008 to 22,123 in 2013 for 1,100 places.
Across all student programmes, the firm received a record 36,000 applications for more than 1,700 places, split by 1,100 graduate, 120 school leaver and almost 500 paid internship opportunities, which includes female partner shadowing and work placements.
"The industry needs a strong pipeline of talent to achieve the growth rates predicted for this sector, and I've no doubt that PwC's investment, throughout the downturn, is paying off and will positively impact our firm's growth plans," said Gaenor Bagley, head of people at PwC.
To meet the demand, the firm has increased the number of graduate places by around 17% in the last five years and also tripled the number of degree programmes it sponsors with the ICAEW.
Similarly, EY is almost doubling the number of places available on its school leaver training scheme, amid unprecedented demand from students looking for alternatives to university. The firm said it will be recruiting over 150 school leavers in 2014 - up from the 80 places available for this September - after having seen almost a 25% increase in applications for this year's programme.
A spokesperson at KPMG said the firm has received 21,000 applications for its graduate scheme of 650 spaces, up from 18,500 last year. Meanwhile, students wishing to join its school leaver programme increased to 1,900 from 1,200 last year for 150 spaces.
Deloitte now offers 1,200 graduate positions, up from 1,100 in 2011, and this year doubled the number of placements in its Summer Vacation Scheme for university students from 150 to 300.
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