The top 15 consulting firm employers for undergraduate students

29 January 2018 5 min. read
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According to a new survey of British-based students, 15 consulting firms are among the 100 best companies to work for as a UK undergraduate. The news comes as a boost for the industry, which is increasingly competing for a shrinking talent pool.

UK employers are braced for an oncoming talent shortage in coming years, as Brexit and an ageing population threaten to deplete the national workforce of skilled workers, along with the need to upskill current employees in order to make best use of digitised organisational practices. This means that attracting graduates this year, and in years to come, takes on an added significance for top organisations. 532,300 people joined higher education in 2015, and as that intake prepares to graduate in the Summer of 2018, the majority will be preparing to enter the world of full-time work.

Multiple polls and lists have revealed that the consulting industry is among the best positioned to take advantage of this new pool of talent. This, even in spite the fact that professional services and accounting firms do not offer the highest starting salary available to graduates. Consulting starters earn an average of £30,000 a year, while starters at consulting firms brought in £31,500 annually, compared to the top earning industry of investment banking, at £47,000.

As a new selection of skilled workers approach availability, consulting firms are determined to place themselves in prime view of the future prospective employees, leveraging undergraduate placement schemes in order to do so. The good news for current and prospective undergraduates is that, as a result of top companies being aware of this increased competition for talent, the number of placements available to them at top 100 companies has increased by 32% in the past four years, and the average salary for these schemes has risen by 7.3%, slightly above inflation. 15 consulting firms are particularly well-placed to take advantage of the coming glut of talent thanks to these placements.The top 15 consulting firms for undergraduate students

In order to determine who the Top 100 Undergraduate Employers 2017-18, took in the opinions of more than 7,000 students. Reviews saw participants of undergraduate work experience placements at companies across Britain asked to evaluate their time with their employers. Respondents were asked how much responsibility they were given, whether they felt valued by colleagues, their impressions of the company in general, and how they rated any training and development opportunities they were offered, alongside the transferable skills they gained. From this, analysis has revealed the top consulting firms for graduate employment in the UK.

Top undergraduate employers

The outright list was topped by J.P. Morgan, with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in second. Following another year as the world’s largest consulting industry player, PwC took third in the overall list from, as the highest positioned consulting firm which employs UK undergraduates. PwC also recently topped the preferences of graduates in a prestigious Times Education list, as it has done for numerous consecutive years.

All the constituent members of the Big Four appeared in this ranking, meanwhile with KPMG joining PwC (ranking fourth outright), as the second best consulting firm for undergraduate employment. However, the world’s largest professional services firms were not the only ones among the top ranks for the industry. The remainder of the firms ranked outside’s broader top ten. Real estate advisory specialists Savills ranked third, ahead of EY, who hired 248 graduates in 2017, amid a period of strong revenue growth. Closing out the top five consulting firms for undergraduate employment, IBM are preparing for a year of change following a difficult 2017.

Grant Thornton were the next most favoured undergraduate employer, followed by Deloitte, who completed the Big Four’s presence on the list. Mace, the next member of the consulting industry to appear, will be a familiar name among students at the University of Sussex in particular, having been appointed to assist in the construction of the institution’s new life sciences facility. Completing the top ten of the UK consulting sector, real state consultancy Cushman & Wakefield were followed by BDO, who employed an additional 300 staff last year, amid a diversity drive.

These firms were also joined by five more names in the UK consulting scene. Engineering specialists Arup were followed by Willis Towers Watson and Aon. The 14th consulting firm listed was Accenture, which recruited an additional in 1,700 people in the UK, amid a major expansion campaign in 2017, while Atkins concluded the industry’s presence in the results.