Attracting Gen Z to accountancy - without the need for university: Andy Wood

Accountancy has changed irreversibly over the past decade with evolving tech, significant cultural shifts, changing client needs and sector trends all rapidly fuelling exciting change in our industry.

Most importantly for the next generation though, there has been a significant shift within the profession to remove barriers to entry to help diversify intake and broaden the talent pool.

Whether that’s through apprenticeship programmes or changing academic requirements, it’s great to see doors being opened to people with a broader range of skills, backgrounds, and experiences.

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At Grant Thornton, I work alongside a team that really recognises the need to invest in the next generation and the value this has for our business and the future of the industry cannot be understated.This is reflected in the rising number of school leavers joining our firm – particularly over the last couple of years. We’ve found that the talent structures and programmes we now have in place help us to find, attract and retain new talent in the Yorkshire region and across the UK are proving popular among bright young people thinking about whether to start work or go to university.

Andy Wood shares his expert insightAndy Wood shares his expert insight
Andy Wood shares his expert insight

In 2022, our firm more than doubled the number of trainees joining the firm’s school leaver apprenticeship programme, welcoming 193 new recruits, up from 90 in 2021. I’m pleased to say we had 33 new joiners in our Sheffield and Leeds offices across all programmes – including Audit, Tax, Accounting Services and Advisory.

Throughout 2023 we’ll be offering 13 internships in Yorkshire, and we’ve already recruited 242 graduates across the UK this year. I think our industry still has work to do to help showcase all the benefits of the jobs within accountancy and the variation, skills and knowledge that comes with it to make it have broader appeal, but that’s a work in progress

An accountancy qualification is a wonderful career platform for a young person, offering potential for them in both business advisory, and in industry, across a huge breadth of sectors.For example, in just four or five years of learning, our apprentices get exposure to everything from fintech and consumer markets, to public sector and not for profit – they get to work with organisations of different sizes, in different sectors, and in many different countries. It gives them a better understanding of the complete business lifecycle and an exhilarating mix of experiences.

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Here in Yorkshire, we really want to promote our apprenticeships, internships, 12-month placements and graduate schemes to show how they can provide a valuable and effective route for young people straight from school to become trusted business and financial advisers for the next generation.

Offering different ways of embarking on a journey within accountancy will promote social mobility in our communities while ensuring a pipeline of highly skilled and diverse talent is joining the firm, enabling us to provide the best quality service to our clients.I believe the future looks bright for the next generation in our firm, and we’re deeply committed to continuing to break down those barriers to entry and making accountancy an even more diverse, inclusive and dynamic profession.

Andy Wood is Yorkshire Managing Partner at Grant Thornton UK LLP