Developing future capabilities

14 December 2017

Transitioning from school to work is both an exciting and career-defining moment in a young person’s life. The choices made between the ages of 14 and 21 are critical. Too often, too many young people feel unprepared.

For a firm like ours, our people and their skills are our biggest asset. By recruiting employees from all social backgrounds and across all strands of diversity, we gain an array of viewpoints on client issues, foresight on our decisions and creative challenge around our actions.

But the social and economic landscape in the UK has proved challenging. If we are to remain competitive globally, we need to be committed to closing the skills gap. That the UK continues to lag behind our continental partners on both the uptake and the funding of technical programmes is concerning. This has contributed towards reduced productivity and a failure to produce the high-level skills our economy requires.

The Government’s introduction of T-Levels and its commitment to apprenticeships – through the introduction of the levy and a public target for apprenticeship starts in this parliament – offers an opportunity for businesses to think about how apprenticeships can be used to nurture talent and increase diversity at all levels.

However, quality must take precedence over quantity. All young people must have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, no matter their background. As part of this, businesses need to be thinking creatively about how we fill our talent pipelines and place technical education at the heart of recruitment strategies.

At KPMG, we recognise the importance of high-quality work placements and apprenticeships to broaden our recruitment base and to offer different pathways into working for us; driving greater diversity in the workforce and promoting social mobility.

KPMG’s flagship work placement programme, the Discovery Programme, running since 2013 in support of the cross-sector initiative Access Accountancy, aims to raise awareness of opportunities in the profession for young people, and to help build a diverse pipeline for KPMG’s school and college leaver programmes.

KPMG360°, our six-year apprenticeship programme, is a high-quality, alternative pathway to university. The programme offers experience across Audit, Tax and Advisory, qualifications at end of year one (AAT L3) and year three (AAT L4), and enables progression to chartered level – providing parity with our graduate entry. The programme continues to grow, seeing a 40 per cent increase in the number of hires this year, with two-thirds based in our regional offices.

Access to information and excellent mentoring and careers advice is also important. As a ‘Cornerstone Employer’, we are working with the Careers & Enterprise Company in two of the Department for Education’s Opportunity Areas to build employability skills for young people. We do this through our flagship Work Ready programme and by convening clients and local businesses to take sustained and collaborative action in supporting schools and colleges across these areas.

A person’s background can have a huge impact on their ability to reach their full potential, with the cycle of disadvantage too often passing from generation to generation. As a founding skills partner to the Department for Education, we recognise that collaboratively, we must commit to working in social mobility coldspots and developing a broad and high-quality technical education system to fill our skills-gap, increase economic productivity and support all young people to realise their potential.

Claire Warnes, Head of Education, Skills and, Productivity, KPMG UK @claire_warnes @kpmguk

 

This article was published in Reform’s social mobility conference brochure on the 12th December 2017. You can view the brochure here.

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