In a move that could drive social mobility within the professional services industry, PwC has changed its recruitment policy which it believes will help further to diversify its graduate intake.
The Big Four firm said that part of the reason for the decision lay in the fact that high A level grades were disproportionately awarded to pupils from affluent backgrounds. The UCAS tariff converts A Level grades to points, rewarding higher grades with more points.
PwC said this demonstrated a strong correlation between social class and school academic performance, with employers subsequently missing out on a pool of talent.
Richard Irwin, PwC’s head of student recruitment, said that while competition and assessment for graduate positions would continue to be exacting, the firm would no longer rely on A Level results.
“We want to target bright, talented people and extend our career opportunities to untapped talent in wider pockets of society,” Irwin said.
“Our experience shows that while A Level assessment can indicate potential, for far too many students there are other factors that influence results.
“Competition and assessment for our graduate roles will be as tough as ever - but those that want to get on with a career in business can do so.”
The PwC graduate scheme – which has been voted the UK’s best for the last 12 years – will now filter applications based on university degree results and through online behavioural and aptitude tests.
Typically, graduates will need an undergraduate 2.1 degree or higher.
Gaenor Bagley, PwC board member and head of people, said the new recruitment policy would build a better system based on merit rather than background.
She said, “As a progressive employer, we recognise that talent and potential presents itself in different ways and at different stages in people’s lives.
“By breaking down social barriers, we will open the door to thousands of students who may have previously thought a graduate role with PwC was out of reach for them.”
Last year, the firm saw 25,573 graduates apply to its recruitment scheme – roughly 17 per position – and expects this number to rise now that more graduates will be eligible to apply.
Bagley and Irwin were joined by Stephen Isherwood, CEO of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, who called on other graduate employers to follow the firm’s example.
“Using a candidate’s UCAS points to assess their potential is a blunt tool and a barrier to social mobility,” Isherwood said.
“This is an innovate step by one of the most significant graduate recruiters in the UK. Other graduate employers should follow their lead.”