Battle for graduates

The English ICA and its Scottish counterpart are locked in separate graduate recruitment charm offensives in the wake of June’s damning anti-electives vote by English institute members.

Scots ICA education director Mark Allison said the institute anticipated an increase in the 20 graduates sent to its London training centre this year.

‘If we are going to make inroads, we will need to change our exam system.

Even if a firm said it wanted to send us 50 students for the 2000 intake, we would have to do so within six weeks,’ said Allison.

‘At the moment we are not cancelling our holidays.’

KPMG and Ernst & Young have led the way in discussions with the Scots ICA, but the rest of the Big Five have since followed their example.

New English ICA education and training directorate chairman Ray Currie acknowledged the Scots had the opportunity to increase its student numbers after English accountants voted against introducing elective modules. Like the Scots, Currie has been consulting widely with firms. He is expected to report his findings to the English ICA council next week, although any changes are unlikely to hit before the 2000 graduate recruitment round.

‘It is fair to say that firms of all sizes are disappointed and they are considering their positions,’ said Currie.

With partner Dame Sheila Masters currently the English ICA president, KPMG was circumspect about its training plans. ‘We are reviewing our options and rule nothing in or nothing out,’ said a spokesman.

Mazars Neville Russell human resources partner David Bowen said the top 20 firm did not have the same pressing need for specialised training as the Big Five, but that even before the electives vote, it had been training staff with the Scots ICA.

‘We’ll be looking to do more with the Scots ICA, but not to the exclusion of the English institute,’ said Bowen.

One Big Five training partner warned that the Scots ICA could face similar grass roots opposition to electives and said it lacked sufficient London-based training resources.

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