Why we hire straight from school

(And came up tops in the School Leaver Awards)

We’re very proud to announce that we came 24th in the entire country as Best Employer of School Leavers at the School Leaver Awards 2017! The news couldn’t have come at more apt time, as we were right in the middle of our annual recruitment drive for new trainees.

Accountancy was quite well represented in the top 100 with 7 other firms in there but all of the other firms were many times larger than us. Indeed, most of the top 100 were household names. To put it in perspective we were 8 places above the second biggest accountancy firm in the world (the biggest didn’t make the top 100), 12 places above Lloyds Bank. 15 places above Barclays, 18 places above Mercedes Benz (message to Lewis Hamilton – are you looking for an accountant?), 30 places above Heineken (probably the best trainer for a career in the beer industry), 44 places above Harrods and 52 places above good old Marks and Spencer! Even better we came 3rdfor skills development (the top accountancy practice) and 3rd for best training programme (again the top accountancy firm).

Awards like this (and the blog posts that follow) aren’t just about us giving ourselves a big pat on the back, but rather a moment to step back and reflect on our aims and objectives for our training programme that is the heart of our practice.

We wanted to share with you a little bit about why recruiting school leavers has been so successful for us, and what we’ve learnt along the way.

1)    The willingness to learn

Anyone starting out a new career has an awful lot to learn, and this can put them under a lot of pressure to develop the skills required for the job quickly. Many companies shy away from employing school leavers because they want someone who can hit the ground running and achieve big results from for the business from day one. But sometimes you have to play the long game, and whilst school leavers of course bring little work experience (except from part-time jobs with little relevance to accountancy) they bring a huge amount of enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Oh and no bad habits!

2)    The University alternative

One thing we have learnt over the past 20 years is that many of the schools judge themselves (in our view wrongly) by the percentage of their students who go to University. It takes a strong-willed individual to resist that pressure and decide that they want to go into the world of work rather than full time education. Of course, an 18 year old school leaver is going to be one of the lowest paid members of our team but that works in their favour because here isn’t the same pressure to perform as there would be a more senior member of the team. Meanwhile the new trainee is often still living at home so has plenty of spare time and cash to have a good social life!

3)    The Click

It’s a big step from finishing school at 3.30 every day to finishing work in a professional office at 5.30. But that doesn’t usually last long and somewhere in the next 18months, there is a “click”. I wish I could hear it because it would be great to know the exact point it happens to one of our trainees. That click is when the trainee concerned suddenly works it out, understands the job and what it takes. And slowly, the rest of the office starts to notice that the “click” has happened. They trust the trainee to take on a bit more responsibility and find it much easier to delegate work to them which accelerates the learning curve.


4)    The Long game

After three years, we find ourselves with a really good reliable employee who can communicate with clients and has a wide range of skills – and the trainee finds they have had several pay rises, passed various professional exams and are well on the way to a very successful career. Some of those fresh-faced teenagers who had a lot to learn may even end up as partners in the business one day, much like some of our current partners!

5)   Consistent and high-quality service to clients

Having a flow of staff all learning from our training programme and from each other means that our clients get a consistent and reliable service that a firm built from staff trained (or not trained!) and a variety of different practices simply can’t achieve. With none of those bad habits referred to earlier, our trainees work in a consistent way supporting senior colleagues in delivering services to clients.  Wewere most proud of being the top accountancy firm for skills development as this is what creates the biggest benefit for clients.

Find a full list of the top 100 award winners here.

Are you a school leaver yourself? Wondering whether this might be the career for you? Take a look at our blog post on why you should become an accountant when you leave school.

Or maybe you’re a business wondering whether you should be entering awards like this? Read our blog post on 3 reasons to enter business awards. (Just don’t beat us!).