KPMG launches ambitious school leavers' programme for accountants
January, 20th 2011
Big Four consultancy firm KPMG is looking to change the way young people train for entry into the accountancy profession.
The firm has linked up with Durham University and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to create a new school leavers' programme for September 2011.
As well as hiring graduates to join the company training scheme, KPMG intends to play a more hands-on role in the learning and development of future accountants.
Under initial proposals, the company will fund 75 undergraduate places at Durham University, with successful applicants beginning a six-year programme consisting of both a degree and a professional chartered accountancy qualification from ICAEW.
Over time, KPMG anticipates the scheme could account for the majority of its annual trainee chartered accountant intake.
The firm will pay the full university and professional tuition fees for each student, and also provide a starting salary of around 20,000. Students will split their time between study at Durham Business School and work at KPMG.
According to the company, one of the main aims in setting up the scheme is to widen participation in the accountancy profession by increasing the diversity and range of its intake.
Oliver Tant, UK head of audit at KPMG, described the initiative as "genuinely groundbreaking and innovative".
"For us, one of the key things is to ensure fair access to the profession by ensuring the greatest number of young people possible go to university and also have the potential to train as an accountant," he stated.
"We need an accountancy profession that is as diverse and as open as it can be. This scheme will address current concerns around how students can meet the costs of university, and make degrees and professional qualifications available to a broader socio-economic group."
He said the scheme was "a major new departure" for KPMG, which could establish a new trend of the private sector helping to meet the costs of tertiary education.
David Willetts, the minister for universities and science, offered a "warm welcome" to the KPMG plan, which he said would provide a new entry route to "a prestigious profession" for people from a wide range of backgrounds.
"I hope other employers and universities will study the concept carefully. It's the kind of initiative that we hope will flourish as we reform higher education," he stated.