This year, PwC said its school and college leaver vacancies in tax and consultation were grossly oversubscribed, after experiencing an increase of 34% in applications each year.
With this in mind, interest in these sorts of school leaver schemes can be interpreted as a direct result of the recession on younger generations. With record unemployment, astronomic university fees that still result in 20,000 graduates fighting for work up to six months after graduation, and a lack of long term job security for those lucky enough to find employment, it is no surprise that, with such a bleak outlook, students are abandoning a once coveted place at university for a route which promises skills training and paid work at the end.
“There’s a generation of students weighing up their career and training options differently,” said Gaenor Bagley, PwC’s head of people, “whether because of university fees, economic forecasts or graduate unemployment, and employers have to adapt.”
Bagley believes that those “talented students who are clear about their career path” will not damage their training and development from not attending university, as the PwC courses have the ability to offer “a realistic alternative to get into business straight after A Levels.” He admits however, that the draw of university still holds sway over the majority of applicants.
“We’re not seeing a wholesale shift away from graduate entry though,” he continued.
“The interest and demand is a mix of genuine increased interest in new, quality training options with major employers, and also reflective of some students hedging their bets with university places. Overall, students are looking at their options in their teens, rather than waiting until their third year at university, and for an employer that’s good news.”
Reassuringly, students are increasingly being made aware of their choices, and hopefully this will result in a move towards more skilled and specialised recruitment and increased employment, leaving universities to raise their game and offer customers more skills and security for their money.
Richard Irwin, PwC’s head of student recruitment, said: “We are working with careers advisers, schools and colleges, training organisations, parents and students to help young people make informed decisions about their future career and the route they take to get there.
“Pessimistic discussions around the student job market can paralyse people’s ambitions and their drive to develop themselves.”
Although it is a difficult task for younger generations to avoid pessimism with highly visible unemployment, it is hoped that the choices made are towards personal betterment and education, as well as employment, where the future remains uncertain.