KPMG UK has over the past year significantly expanded its so-called ‘school leaver work experience programme’. The intake of school-leavers nearly tripled to 71, compared to an intake of 25 candidates last year, and the catchment area has been extended beyond London to offices across the UK, including Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Watford.
To help young people from different backgrounds successfully enter the workforce, KPMG in 2010 launched the ‘STAR programme’, a programme that offers talented individuals who have just completed their A Levels (or equivalent) the opportunity to gain 12 months' paid work experience. During the 12 months candidates develop technical knowledge and professional skills through working on a wide range of projects (typically 3 – 6 months), from client engagements to strategic initiatives. At the end of the programme, the candidates are given the option to apply to other KPMG opportunities such as the ‘School Leaver Programme’ or experienced hire roles.
Based on the success of the programme* – to date 43 of the 84 STAR alumni have successfully secured permanent roles – the accounting and consulting firm has decided to expand the programme’s scope. The number of intakes has been increased and the programme’s footprint has been extended to several offices beyond London, where STAR was launched four years ago. “The STAR programme was launched in response to internal demand for junior resources, and the need to increase diversity within our workforce by widening access to our profession. The decision to expand the intake, both in terms of numbers and geography this year is testament to success of the scheme and the achievements of our trainees, who have truly inspired us,” explains Alison Fryer, director and STAR programme lead at KPMG.
KPMG's UK people director, Colm Coffey, adds: "It's important for businesses to step up and contribute positively to social mobility. By building sustainable partnerships with schools, colleges and the local community, we can help raise the aspirations of young people. Such relationships help address youth unemployment and the skills shortage amongst school leavers, but they also inspire confidence in young people to continue to invest in and develop their skills and experiences to build successful working lives. The STAR programme provides this valuable work experience and helps young people fulfil their potential and succeed in a company that they would not necessarily have had the opportunity to join through conventional means."
* In addition to the internal success, the STAR programme has also been recognised by external parties for its commitment to diversity. Since its launch the initiative has been awarded the “Race for Opportunity” award as well as the “Big Tick” from Business in the Community.