Top accountancy recruiters have told the Financial Times that within two years there is little noticeable difference between school leavers and graduate entrants, and that school leavers ‘may even progress faster’ than graduates.

Richard Irwin, head of student recruitment at PwC told the paper: ‘We’ve got school leavers who joined us nine or ten years ago who are now on track for partner and senior management level… We are very demanding and expect all our people to progress. It’s not about what they studied years ago.’

While PwC and the other Big Four accountancy firms recruit both school leavers and graduates, currently their school leaver intake is comparatively small. Could this change?

It certainly looks set to. Rising tuition fees are encouraging bright pupils to look for alternatives to university, and employers see an advantage in the increased loyalty of school leaver recruits: Liz Bingham, EY’s managing partner for talent in the UK and Ireland, said ‘School leavers often show more loyalty in the long run and I’m not sure what drives that’.

Graduates remain important to recruitment

There are still plenty of opportunities for graduates in the financial services sector however, which remains the largest recruitment area for UK graduates. Bingham cites advisory as one of the areas in which having a degree remains an advantage: ‘Arguably, in our advisory business, degrees are more useful.’ she says.

Not sure whether a school leaver scheme or university is the right option for you? Take a look at our School Leaver Schemes vs. University article.

Whatever you decide, you can apply to accountancy school leaver schemes and accountancy graduate schemes today.


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