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What do young accountancy recruits want from their employers?

What do young accountancy recruits want from their employers

Accountancy training firm First Intuition recently surveyed its students to find out what young adults want when it comes to looking for, choosing, and staying in a role. This is as employers report they are finding it difficult to recruit high-quality candidates in the accountancy sector. Particularly those entering the workplace for the first time. Below are some of the key findings from the survey in the hope that they can help employers better understand what young adults look for in the recruitment and retention process.

Finding a role

  • 39% of respondents found their current role through using a recruiter so employers are likely to get in front of more candidates if they use them too
  • 50% of Graduates found their current role through TikTok so the platform offers new opportunities for employers to get in front of potential candidates
  • 35% of respondents who had found a new role in the past year found it through LinkedIn, whilst 29% of those who started a role in the past 1-2 years found it through internal vacancies
  • 38% of apprentices use vacancies pages on company websites so employers should utilise them

Choosing a role

  • Candidates are not just driven by salary when looking for a new role. Employers can be competitive with their recruitment without necessarily having to pay more if they pay attention to other areas effectively. For example, 42% of respondents consider a pleasant and comfortable working environment the most important factor when considering a role
  • Employers should therefore consider prioritising this, as well as other important factors to young adults including competitive salary/ bonus, work-life balance, and number of holidays in their latest cohort of recruits
  • Apprentices value charity work or social/ environmental projects the company is involved in most when considering a role (44%), whilst commercial students value work-life balance most (56%)

Motivation in a role

  • The biggest reason for dissatisfaction in a role is due to pay, followed by lack of support. Employers may need to look that their pay is competitive/ increases on a regular basis to ensure their staff stay satisfied within a role
  • For respondents satisfied in a role, support from colleagues and management and support whenever you need it was the key motivator. Although pay is important and not something employers should ignore, employers can focus on other factors such as ensuring they have effective support in place to keep staff motivated
  • Key motivators to candidates in a role change with job level, likely in line with how priorities in life change. Employers should be aware of how their staff’s wants and needs change over time and adjust their benefits accordingly
  • Young adults, and so lower-level staff, are motivated in a role by employers that take measures to lower their carbon footprint

Moving roles

  • Those in Industry are experiencing the biggest movement of staff and lowest retention rates across the accountancy sector. These businesses might need to pay more attention to what their staff want and need to help increase retention rates, as well as be more appealing during the recruitment process
  • Of those that had moved roles in the past 12 months, 50% said a factor that influenced their decision to leave was lack of career progression
  • The most popular influences that impact commercial students’ decision to move roles in the past 12 months were lack of career progression and not feeling valued (33%), whilst, for apprentices, it was due to being offered more pay elsewhere and lack of career progression (64%)


  • Most respondents (52%) value being able to work flexible hours in their role, followed by the flexibility to work both at home and in the office (42%). The least respondents value discounts as a work benefit (4%)
  • A higher pension rate is notably more important to commercial students (32%) than apprentices (13%). Equally, an employee referral bonus is considerably more important to apprentices (35%) than commercial students (18%)
  • The benefits that staff value most change with job level and length of time in a role, likely in line with how their priorities in life change. Employers should be aware of how their staff’s wants and needs change over time and adjust their benefits accordingly

Personal factors

  • Social poverty and income inequality came out as the most important issue to respondents with 63% choosing this topic, followed by mental health and wellness (49%), and climate change and environmental issues (44%)
  • Racial equality (23%), inclusion and equal access to education and services (19%), and gender inequality (18%) were chosen as the least important social issues or causes to respondents
  • Graduates (within the first year of training) consider climate change and environmental issues as the most important causes
  • Job level impacts the social issues or causes that respondents consider most important, employers should think about what the staff at the job level they are targeting consider most important
  • Snapchat is the social media platform most used by respondents with 46% saying they use it at least once a day. Followed by Facebook (44%) and Instagram (43%)

Employers can benefit from using this information to better understand what young trainee accountants want from their roles and the recruitment process. This will help them to recruit high-quality staff, increase retention rates, help young adults into the workplace and increase staff satisfaction and productivity.

Below are some quotes from employers who have used the Accountancy Student Recruitment Report with the results.  

“The report is very insightful and brings some real key drivers that all businesses should consider during the hiring process and just as importantly consider in retaining top talent. These insights are things we hear day to day in the recruitment market and the key point every candidate mentions is hybrid/flexible working to enable a work/life balance which stands out in this report. The other stand out findings for me would be the importance of good benefits and working environment and culture which are vital for any business when looking to hire as well as offering career progression which is the main reason we find for people looking.”

Mark Wishart – Pure Executive

“One of the most useful survey reports that I have seen this year.

Employers need to tune into what their current and future people value the most and how they respond to different types of communication. This report support so much of what we hear from our candidate network from how they apply for jobs, attitudes to flexibility and the growing importance of business purpose.

As the UK continues to experience high wage inflation and high competition for candidates, the quick solution for many employers is to just increase salaries. This report highlights that this not the only solution and is not always the best one.”

Nik Pratap – Pratap Partnership

You can download the full report here.

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