Leading accountancy firm changes recruitment process to ignore national education qualifications

A leading accountancy firm is taking the bold step of removing academic and education details from its trainee application process.

Ernst and Young will instead provide their own online tests to judge applicants.

It is hoped this will reduce prejudice based on the national education system, and increase diversity.

Education qualifications will “no long act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door,” according to Maggie Stilwell of Ernst and Young.

Previously, grades of BBC were needed at A-level for trainees to be accepted by Ernst and Young, and for graduate recruits, a 2:1 degree was required. This is now being changed.

It is not the first accountancy firm to make this break from the education system. In May, PricewaterhouseCoopers stopped using A-level grades when looking at graduates to recruit.

Although Ernst and Young will still be gathering qualifications information for their records, during the first round of interviews the interviewers will not be told this information, keeping the interviews unbiased.

1,800 applicants per year are taken on by the firm, from 25,000 applications. It is hoped that this break from using these qualifications will help to open the company up to recruiting people from more backgrounds, especially as the company is currently unbalanced in terms of gender and race.

Ms Stilwell explained that “screening students based on academic performance alone was too blunt an approach to recruitment.”

She said there was “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.”

With recent criticisms of school exam boards, such as with issues like the GCSE maths question about Hannah’s Sweets (which ended up going viral because of the difficulty of it), and companies seemingly finding national qualifications redundant, it calls into question the entire system and whether it is doing the best for students.