One of the UK’s biggest accountancy firms will no longer consider an applicant’s qualifications, school or university when selecting trainees for interview in an attempt to increase the diversity of its workforce

EY, one of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms is to remove academic qualifications from their entry criteria for their 2016 graduate, undergraduate and school leaver programmes.

Students will no longer be required to have a minimum of 300 UCAS points (equivalent to 3 B’s) and a 2:1 degree classification to make an application. Instead, EY will use a new and enhanced suite of online ‘strengths’ assessments and numerical tests to assess the potential of applicants for 2016.

The decision comes after an 18-month analysis of the firm’s student selection process by talent management firm Capp, which confirmed EY’s strengths based approach – used in the recruitment process since 2008 – is a robust and reliable indicator of a candidate’s potential to succeed in role.

Creating a level playing field

EY’s Managing Partner for Talent, Maggie Stilwell, said: “At EY we are modernising the workplace, challenging traditional thinking and ways of doing things. Transforming our recruitment process will open up opportunities for talented individuals regardless of their background and provide greater access to the profession.

“Academic qualifications will still be taken into account and indeed remain an important consideration when assessing candidates as a whole, but will no longer act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door.

“Our own internal research of over 400 graduates found that screening students based on academic performance alone was too blunt an approach to recruitment. It found no evidence to conclude that previous success in higher education correlated with future success in subsequent professional qualifications undertaken.

“Instead, the research shows that there are positive correlations between certain strengths and success in future professional qualifications.

“Transforming our recruitment policy is intended to create a more even and fair playing field for all candidates, giving every applicant the opportunity to prove their abilities.”

Academic qualifications are not redundant

EY will continue to value students’ academic achievements and maintain its high intellectual standards, but believes the enhancements to its strengths based selection process will give many more students the chance to demonstrate their future potential. It will also help to create a more inclusive culture at the firm to drive the business forward and deliver better results for our clients.

Dan Richards, EY’s Recruiting Leader for the UK said “At EY we want to attract the brightest and most talented individuals. The changes we have made to our recruitment process will help us to access the widest and deepest possible talent pools. We want to give every candidate the opportunity to demonstrate their strengths and their potential in our selection process.’’

Wider access to advice and guidance

To further improve the potential for social mobility, EY intends to launch online learning resources to give candidates from all backgrounds access to the information and skills that makes securing a graduate role easier. The Future Ready programme will include guidance on four core personal skills (Leadership; Commerciality; Networking and Influence) that EY has identified as invaluable to securing and succeeding in a first professional role.

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