Taking a professional approach to apprenticeships  

October 3, 2018

With rising university costs, ‘Big Four’ firm Deloitte is looking to offer a different route into professional services with its higher apprenticeship programme. Deborah Busby speaks to Stephen Hall, office senior partner at Deloitte in Newcastle, to find out more

While, for many years, a career in professional services was widely viewed as being inaccessible to those without a university education, recent efforts have now truly opened up the sector to make it a career choice for a much broader spectrum of young people.

Apprenticeships are now offered in a range of professional service sectors, giving school and college leavers the opportunity of achieving a successful career as an accountant or lawyer without the necessity to go to university.

Among the businesses to throw their support behind apprenticeships is professional services firm Deloitte. For many years, it has been committed to offering opportunities to young people through its successful graduate scheme, but it now also offers an apprenticeship programme to run alongside it.

Across its UK-wide operation, Deloitte offers opportunities to around 2,000 young people each year, around 280 of whom are part of its acclaimed BrightStart Higher Apprenticeship programme, which has been running for three years. Usually, around 15 of these young people are based in Deloitte’s Newcastle office, benefiting from on-the-job training and development from some of the leading professionals in the game.

Through a combination of graduate and apprentice recruitment, the office has a cohort of young people who work, study and socialise together, creating an enviable workplace dynamic. And, importantly, each of these young people are able to create a meaningful career path of personal and professional progression from the minute they join.

To go from A-levels to accountant with a ‘Big Four’ firm in four years is proving an appealing proposition, with young people across the country applying in big numbers for their chance.

For Stephen Hall, office senior partner at Deloitte in Newcastle, apprenticeships have been an important introduction, from the perspective of both the business and its young people.

“We have long been committed to offering opportunities to young people, but we have really stepped it up, and are very proud to take a leading role in this area,” he says.

“There are many reasons why it’s great for a firm like Deloitte to get involved in apprenticeships, but I think one of the big things for me is that we are finding these young people who are incredibly motivated, real diamonds in the making, and we can help to show them that their aspirational career choice can become a reality. And there can be few better places to build a career than with Deloitte.”

Stephen continues: “It is true that in recent years the competitive nature of this sector has meant that most people have a university education, but looking back 30 or 40 years, most of the articled clerks (who would now be known as trainees) didn’t go to university.

“Things have changed along the line, but there is so much more to consider about going to university these days; tuition fees have certainly made a big difference. Many young people are put off even by the perception of how expensive it will be.

“An apprenticeship programme like ours gives them training, a salary, access to opportunities, and ultimately a job, in exactly the same way we offer to our graduates – the only difference is that the apprenticeship scheme lasts longer, but the outcome is the same.”

Stephen takes particular pride in how apprenticeships open up the profession to young people from the local area, for whom working in a professional services firm may never previously have been an option.

“I think it’s a great thing that, for example, a young person from Newcastle or Gateshead who has heard of Deloitte, has grown up nearby, probably passes our office regularly, can now think ‘that is where I want to work’.

“Even if university isn’t on their agenda, a career with us definitely can be. We look for highly-motivated people who are willing to work hard, to learn, and have a genuine desire and enthusiasm for what we do,” he says.

“We have found some fantastic people through both our graduate and apprenticeship programmes, and the camaraderie they have and collegiate nature of how they work is really impressive.

“Our BrightStart scheme is superb and has enabled us to build on our existing commitment to young people by offering opportunities at an even earlier stage. It is very rewarding for us to be able to do this, and it’s a real pleasure to see the ongoing development and tangible progress of the group of young people we have in the North East.”

For more information on the apprenticeships offered at Deloitte, visit: www.deloitte.co.uk/careers.

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