In 2015, EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young), removed the degree classification section from its entry criteria, instead opting for online assessments to judge candidates. This came just months after fellow Big Four accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) ceased using Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) points as a measure for recruiting graduates in a bid to break down social barriers.
In a display of further progression, PwC is preparing to launch its higher apprenticeship pilot program in July — an 18-month initiative that will allow school leavers to gain a business diploma while working at the company as accountants and risk management consultants. The practice offers prospective employees the chance to bypass university, a move that is seen as a unique opportunity to reduce student debt and level the playing field for disadvantaged students. The pathway aims to provide similar job security to that of a traditional trade apprenticeship, where the person in training can not only earn money as they learn but is highly likely to land a full-time job upon completion.
This transition towards vocational training is reflective of Australian employers’ current attitude that too many university graduates are underprepared for the real world. Organisations aren’t simply looking for academic excellence; in fact, there are several other factors that are equally, if not more important.
It’s no secret that employers want to hire people who have had some level of experience so that the transition into the role is a smooth one. With just 31 per cent of students in the 15-19 age bracket working while completing their tertiary education, it’s no wonder so many of them aren’t ready for the traditional workforce. This is where the apprenticeship model will appeal to many organisations that have always treaded the university graduate path. On-the-job training is a sure way to fast track the learning process and create employees that are.