KPMG School Leavers' Programme

ICAEW
#1

I’ve just noticed the new option from KPMG where they are combining work experience with a degree. Their site says: “KPMG have joined up with ICAEW and Durham University to offer an innovative new six year programme which integrates a university degree and the ACA qualification with a career at a top accountancy firm.”
This strikes me as a great idea for the student and will potentially help KPMG to create a body of new staff members who are trained to their own demands. However, do you think that this type of approach will really work?
I would be worried that if you trained in this way you would only really be a valuable employee to KPMG? That said if I was offered that type of arrangement straight from school I think I would have gone for it!!

#2

I seem to recall reading something about this on another forum and it drew a muted response. There were those who saw value in it and those who could see that it might lead to people who were a little tunnel visioned.

My view is that with the difficulty in studying for degrees, and in particular with the the increased costs from next year, there is a need for more professional practices to look at this scheme, The practices can be in accountancy, management consultancy, law, banking or investment. There is a case to be argued that the professions will lose quality intake if these schemes are not established. The point is that whilst there are options for future accountants to work and study together, this does not apply in such a free way to other professions so degrees are vital.

Will this type of scheme ‘clone’ people? That is a risk as the first 6 years minimum of their working life will be with one co, but as nearly all partnerships have a parallel approach I think that benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

The truth is that in the current climate these places will be snapped up and the consequences thought about much later. The one point I think I would make however is that ICAEW back it so it can’t be all bad.

#3

I sadly have to agree with you David and whilst I really don’t think it is really necessary for large companies such as KPMG to have their own training academies I can see some substantial benefits emerging to such an extent that people will jump at the chance even if it doesn’t necessarily help the industry in the long term.
I think everyone is worried to at least a certain extent about the finances of studying and whether or not they will have a job at the end so options that deal with these worries are bound to be popular. BUT I would be worried about the long term impact of this with companies such as KPMG will just increase their dominance in the way that the industry is shaped. Not so sure whether this is a good thing or bad but there is just something that said I am a bit uncomfortable about the idea of someone being tied to one company for a period of 6 years at such an early stage in their career. Then again if this gives them the access to the industry, I am not complaining as it’s very difficult for everyone these days.
I guess the worries that students will simply become clones and only be trained in areas that are useful to KPMG are real and how these students will then sell themselves to other companies in the future must be at the back of their minds. Then again if it’s useful to KPMG it is going to be useful to others and at least future employers will know exactly what it is these individuals know.
Swings and roundabouts I guess but I don’t think many people would turn it down if offered to them!

#4

Nia

I think your views are entirely valid. This is a carrot and donkey situation where the student is the donkey. The problem here is that there are very few carrots for the hungry donkey today so what is offered will be chewed on. Just like the carrot I do not think there is much fat in the offer but then to mix metaphors, half a loaf is better than none.
You are right when you talk about students finances and prospects and when one looks at today’s unemployment figures there is no doubt that if you can be guaranteed a future for six months then this will appeal.
I do however have one issue with this and that is that if the student fails his year three exams or maybe scrapes a TuTu or a 3rd will his KPMG future not proceed?
Commitment to this type of opportunity as we can all see is going to happen but the ‘what if’ scenario does bother me.

#5

Hmm yes hadn’t thought about that! I would imagine there will be a wide range of processes in place for the company to make sure that anyone who starts to slip will be pulled up very sharpish. I know with some law firms students who leave during their training contract have to find money to pay for training although in most cases they only leave in order to go to a new firm and therefore that firm will pick up the tab, what would happen with an outright failure I have no idea :-/
As with anything I suppose the devil is in the detail and it may be the case that someone comes out with a ‘tutu’ but actually has proven themselves to be very capable it may just be that they are no good at exams so this type of arrangement may even be massively advantageous for those who are not necessarily good at the exams but actually has a lot to offer.

#6

I think Nia is right here in that the devil is in the detail, but knowing how these firms work they will not lose out!
If somebody early on is failing, yes I agree they may well put a safety net in place to assist, but not everybody is cut out for university life. They are brilliant at school but then when the greater call for independence is placed in front of them they stagger around as if they are replicating an evening on Fresher’s week.
It could of course be that ICEAW has some into this as they are sponsoring the scheme and that may soften the blow, but maybe the answer is that if the student is faltering the employer can recommend pulling out of the degree course and then working full time and undertaking AAT. That would be a rescue path that could lead to the ACA qualification. All that would be left would be those financial implications but no doubt some Financial Modeller will have an answer!