PwC said over 22,000 students applied for its 960 paid work experience placements this year, a 12% increase on 2016.
In total, the firm received a record of 49,502 student applications for its 2,285 graduate, apprenticeship, school leaver, paid internship and work placement positions this year.
The firm explained the jump in student applications was driven by students’ wish to get a head start in their careers and stand out in the competitive student jobs market.
Laura Hinton, head of people at PwC, said, “We’ve seen a big increase in the number of students applying to our variety of work experience and internship options as they look for ways to stand out in the competitive job market and test drive their career options at a much earlier stage.
“All of our work experience and internship options are paid, which is a crucial way for us to attract a greater diversity of students and make sure that opportunities are open to all.
“We’re committed to creating opportunities for students right across the country and dispelling the myth that you need to work in London to get ahead in your career. We plan to create even more student roles in our regional offices this year and our technology degree apprenticeship programme is a great example of that ambition in action, as roles will be based in our Birmingham and Leeds offices.”
Vacancies included a year-long work placement for university students, a six to eight-week summer internship; a week’s work experience targeted at A level students looking to join the apprenticeship programmes; a week-long placement in PwC’s technology team; a week’s work experience for A Level students aimed at those with an interest in technology; and a placement to shadow senior females in the business.
Hinton added, “We want to employ the most talented people, regardless of their backgrounds, and the more routes we have into our profession the more successful we will be in reaching the best people. We recognise that we’ve got more work to do here, but it’s encouraging that the steps we’ve already taken to widen access to our firm, such as removing UCAS criteria, offering paid internships and extending our schools outreach, are starting to pay off.”
The firm had announced earlier in the year that it was creating 80 places per year on its new technology degree apprenticeship programme. Applications for the programme, in partnership with the University of Birmingham and the University of Leeds, will open in September this year, with the first intake starting in September 2018.
Louise Farrar, head of student recruitment at PwC, said, “Placements such as ours are a great opportunity for students to gain valuable skills and experience beyond academic performance. This can help place them in pole position in the jobs market. Importantly, these programmes are not a one-way street - they allow students to try before they apply, testing future employers as much as the employers are testing them.
“The conversion rate of students from our work experience placements into full-time roles is very high. We’re able to recruit with confidence from this group, because they’ve had real experience of our business, culture, clients and industry.”
The firm also revealed that this year 55% of graduate hires were outside of London, rising to 71% for school leaver roles.