Thanks to consultantcy PwC’s school engagement strategy, almost 6,000 young people, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, have been given the skills and confidence they need to find work.
Good for society
- Around 400 students join PwC straight from school every year, many more continue education or employment elsewhere following the programme.
- Staff collectively contributed 5,107 hours supporting young people in schools. This benefited the schools, whilst allowing staff to develop their skills and local network.
Good for business
- PwC has been able to attract new staff from a diverse talent pool. Students bring fresh perspectives and the ability to relate to different clients.
- Supporting young people is a positive, rewarding developmental opportunity for PwC staff, who report feeling more engaged with the firm.
Top tips from PwC
Take time to understand the schools, the pressures teachers face and the needs and preferences of students. Use these insights to inform your engagement strategy.
Involve your people. Client-facing staff are central to every aspect of PwC’s schools strategy.
Define some core KPIs focused on the impact you want to make and set regular reviews. Don’t be afraid to change direction when you need to.
PwC’s strategy for engaging with schools and attracting school leaver recruits is a blend of deep, targeted engagement with selected schools and more general work experience opportunities.
PwC works with 25 chosen secondary schools nationally and also provides student mentoring, diversity mentoring, workshops, office visits, virtual engagement and learning resources.
The aim is to enhance students’ understanding of employability skills and to build the confidence to find work that matches their career goals, whether at PwC or elsewhere. By removing the barriers some people face, PwC is increasing social mobility and diversity in gender, ethnicity and background.
PwC champions diversity and so has ensured the training and development opportunities are open to all. So far 5,993 have directly benefited from being on the programme.
PwC has recruited more than 600 school and college leavers since 2003 and, in 2012, the firm launched its Higher Apprenticeship scheme and refreshed its community engagement strategy.
The company is committed to using its business expertise to reduce the number of young people not in employment, education or training, whilst building a diverse, sustainable talent pipeline.
PwC specialises in building business relationships to solve problems. It is a network of firms offering advice, assurance and tax services in 157 countries, employing more than 200,000 people.
PwC has invested around £400,000 in the engagement and recruitment project. The firm also has an established volunteering programme, entitling employees to six days’ paid volunteering each year, which means that around 30% of staff (5,000 individuals) volunteer annually. Volunteers’ contribution as mentors and facilitators is central to the strategy.
A strong, multi-layered governance framework creates accountability at all levels. The PwC Board reviews strategy and the progress of the project twice a year. The Directors steer the operations and the project is delivered by two programme managers and a virtual team of 13 representatives from every UK region.
The virtual team members build relationships with their local schools and students, and the team comes together via conference calls, online meetings and face-to-face away-days to measure impact, innovate new ideas and share best practice. They are supported by an evaluation expert and media specialists.
Young staff members
Young people are core to PwC’s business with 43% of its employees being under 29.
The firm recognises the value young staff members bring to its business and clients. It is experienced at getting the best from them with young employees providing positive role models that students can relate to.
Those engaged with students, in school or the workplace, are supported through briefings and training – ensuring they feel valued and equipped to deliver the support young people need.
Engagement of junior staff fosters a strong, inclusive culture of ‘giving back’, igniting passion which grows as their careers progress. 96% of volunteers felt they’d developed their skills, 98% would volunteer again.
PwC recognised that young people from different backgrounds may have different aspirations or preferences and so created multiple entry routes into employment. Everything they do in schools signposts students towards ways of working for PwC.
What PwC's Head of People said:
"The strength of our brand means that we are an attractive employer, but we cannot take that for granted. It is a business imperative that we recruit our talent from as diverse a pool as possible, to bring different perspectives to our work and better reflect our diverse client relationships. We are incredibly proud of our schools engagement and recruitment activity, as well as the development provided to those who join us through these routes. This is an environment where those with the hunger to succeed will be given every opportunity to do so, regardless of background or experience.” - Gaenor Bagley, Head of People at PwC