Firm doubles trainee intake

Schools in focus at Grant Thornton

andrew howieBusiness and financial advisory firm Grant Thornton has more than doubled its trainee intake in Scotland this year with a focus on school leavers.

Four of the 26 new trainees come to the firm directly from school – part of a long term strategy to increase investment in developing new talent, remove academic barriers to entry and widen access to those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Research commissioned by Grant Thornton has found that 17% of the company’s UK-wide intake for school leavers and graduate programmes in 2016. Previously, they would have been unable to apply based on academic criteria, including secondary school performance and degree classification.

The analysis carried out by The Bridge Group, a charitable policy association researching and promoting social mobility, explored the annual performance review process and found that 38% of those who would have been previously screened out due to the academic requirements are considered to be strong performers, compared to 34% of those who would have passed the previous screening.

As well as flexible academic entry, Grant Thornton took several other measures aimed at increasing the diversity of its intake. The firm removed the emphasis on relevant work experience and extra-curricular achievements, invested in providing one-to-one coaching calls for all candidates before and after first round interviews, and created online communities for candidates to encourage peer-to-peer networking.

The Bridge Group analysis found that candidates’ socioeconomic background had a very small or no effect on success at every stage of the firm’s selection process.

Andrew Howie (pictured), Grant Thornton’s managing partner in Scotland and Northern Ireland, said:We started our social mobility journey over three years ago with a vision for the firm to be more representative at all levels of the socioeconomic demographic of wider society.

“More young people are considering different routes into the world of work, with some preferring to consider school leaver programmes over higher education. Regardless of what age they choose to join the workforce, we believe that our profession should be open to those who have talent and ambition, regardless of socioeconomic background.

“While there is more to be done, we are proud of our achievements so far, which include being recognised by government as a Champion of the social mobility business compact.

“The Bridge Group analysis shows that the proportion of candidates who were successful in gaining a place on our trainee scheme but would not have met previous academic requirements are from a more diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds than the wider population. This demonstrates that our interventions are working and we are hopeful that it will inspire other firms to review their approach to entry level recruitment and inform future policies and practices.

“Creating a diverse workforce is not only good for us as a firm, but also for our people and clients and for the future of Scotland’s vibrant economy where people, businesses and communities can thrive. We are proud to be widening access to opportunity, regardless of background.”

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