PwC receives 41k applications for student programmes

19 August 2015 3 min. read

PwC this year has a record number of students to select from for the 2,000 places it has available within its student entry level programmes. The number, 41,000, has increased significantly since last year in part because of the decision to scrap the high school element of its selection criteria. According to the firm, the reason for the change in admission policy is to open up its ranks to a more socially diverse background of applications as it seeks to create pathways for social mobility.

The number of students applying for PwC’s entry level programmes in the UK has risen significantly since last year, with more than 41,000 applicants received, making it the busiest intake year on record. The number of applications to Higher Apprenticeships jumped 17%, while the number of students seeking a graduate position has risen 15%. The number of available positions represents barely 5% of the number applying, with around 2,000 graduate, school leaver, paid internships and work placement positions up for the grabs.

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Social mobility and opportunity
According to the professional services firm, the sharp increase in the number of applications follows from the firm’s decision to scrap its normal A Levels requirement for entry – leading the way, according to PwC, “in driving social mobility and diversity of the professional services industry.” The company’s commitment to attracting students form more diverse backgrounds has also seen an improvement in the number of women applying for positions, up from 41% in 2014 to 47% this year.

Besides providing more opportunity for a wider range of candidates to join PwC, the Big Four firm has also seen an increase in demand for each of the distinct entry-level programmes. PwC’s recruiters face a 17% increase in demand for places in its Higher Apprenticeship programme, while the advisory firm received 117% more application for its school leavers programme compared to 2010.

Gaenor Bagley, head of people at PwC, says: “The level of interest in our student roles this year is simply astounding, especially given the fierce competition for top talent. The surge in applications, since we changed our graduate recruitment criteria, is an early indicator that efforts to attract students from wider pockets of society is working. We are seeing young people begin to rethink the career options available to them and make informed decisions about their future career."

Gaenor Bagley and Richard Irwin - PwC

Richard Irwin, head of student recruitment at PwC, adds: “Whichever route someone chooses we are clear that anyone with the right talent and transferable skills, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to succeed in our business. However, recruitment standards remain incredibly high so students must consider their options early and be prepared to demonstrate their capabilities through the recruitment process.”

PwC is not the only firm to be seeking ways to open up its ranks to a wider pool of applicants than the traditional elite from the 4% - 7% of the population that enjoys an independent or elite public education trajectory to tertiary level. EY recently announced it will scrap the minimum of 300 UCAS points requirement.