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PwC enjoys explosion of interest in graduate consulting roles

Gaenor Bagley

London: PwC, the professional services firm, says it has received record levels of interest in its graduate roles with applications more than tripling since the start of the financial crisis in 2008 and demand for consulting places in particular leaping remarkably.

Voted the top graduate recruiter for a record tenth consecutive year, applications have increased from 7,003 in 2008 to 22,123 in 2013.

In its consulting practice alone PwC received 37 applications for each vacancy. This signals a 39% rise in applications to the consulting graduate schemes since last year, and a 600% increase since 2008. Recognising the strong demand for graduate jobs from talented students, and to meet business growth plans the firm has increased the number of graduate places by around 17% in the last five years.

To meet growing demand from students, PwC has also tripled the number of degree programmes it sponsors with the ICAEW, the accountancy industry's qualification body, increasing the number ofpotential recruits from the programme to almost 150 per year. PwC was the first to offer this accelerated route to accountancy qualification which pays students for around 12 months of work experience as part of their degree course.

Since its launch in 2001 at Newcastle University Business School, it has had an almost 100% employment record and received over 4,500 application for around 600 places. With student interest in employer linked degrees and paid internships increasing, the programme was extended to the Henley Business School at the University of Reading in 2012 and this autumn the University of Nottingham will open applications for its first intake in 2014.

Across all student programmes, the firm received almost 36,000 applications for more than 1,700 places, split by 1,100 graduate, 120 school leaver and almost 500 paid internship opportunities, which includes female partner shadowing and work placements.

Gaenor Bagley, head of people at PwC, said, "Although routes into work and training have evolved over the past five years, the high levels of interest we're seeing in graduate employment show that there has not been a wholesale shift away from traditional routes into the world of work. If anything the recession has meant the best and brightest have even more options now than before.

"Professional and business services now accounts for 11% of the UK economy (1) and there's no doubt that the growth and profile of the sector has fuelled the sustained increase in interest in joining the firm. The industry needs a strong pipeline of talent to achieve the growth rates predicted for this sector, and I've no doubt that PwC's investment, throughout the downturn, is paying off and will positively impact our firm's growth plans."

Richard Irwin, head of recruitment at PwC, said, "Despite the expense often associated with university and with the tough employment environment for both graduates and students receiving their A level results, a university degree remains an attractive way of demonstrating the skills that employers need.

"However, with such fierce competition for graduate roles, students need to ensure they are thinking about their career options as early as college and the first year of university. By supplementing degree study with work experience and engaging with employers, students can maximise the value of their university experience and boost their employability.

"For those who don't think university is for them, Higher Apprenticeships are a great alternative to work while you learn. Students need to make sure they are making the decision that is right for them and consider what employers are looking for."

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