Plundering schools for the next generation of professionals

THIS WEEK’S news that the big firms are increasingly turning to school leavers for recruitment is interesting on a number of fronts.

Firstly, it’s quite puzzling that it has taken so long for the firm to wake up to school leavers being a rich source of talent for the future. This was always the case. Somehow a university education became the main currency for recruiters which took them well away from nabbing the best people early on.

For those successful people out there who skipped uni this was always common knowledge. The obsession with university degrees left them perplexed and somewhat annoyed. It seems though that the hike in university fees has done the job.

The government should be dismayed and overjoyed at the reasoning of the big firms.

Dismayed because the firms have essentially endorsed the idea that being saddled with big debts will deter people from higher education. Not something Vince Cable will want to hear right now (though he never was the biggest fan of the Big  Four firms). This places the firms in an odd political position. The argument against a rise in fees is that it will deter students. The firms by increasingly switching attention to school leavers have backed the student argument that fewer people will see themselves as being able to afford high education. We shouldn’t be too surprised if in the next student demo some bright spark carries a banner declaring that Deloitte or PwC is backing their argument.

However, in a strange way a trend which sees sophisticated recruiters increasingly hire school levers should be welcomed by government. After all, it takes people away from uni, easing pressure on places. What more could Vince Cable and Nick Clegg want?



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