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PwC axes A-levels criteria for jobs

Published 04/05/2015

PwC said it wants to extend career opportunities to untapped talent in wider pockets of society
PwC said it wants to extend career opportunities to untapped talent in wider pockets of society

One of Britain's largest graduate employers is going to drop using A-levels as a way of selecting their recruits because it disadvantages those from poorer backgrounds.

The accountancy firm PwC has announced it will no longer use an applicant's A-level grades when deciding what young graduates to recruit.

The firm, which is one of the 'Big Four' accounting giants, said the policy could "drive radical changes in the social mobility and diversity of the professional services' industry".

Until now the company had looked at an applicant's UCAS score, which gives points for the qualifications 16 and 17-year-olds have, as a way of screening which graduates to select.

But bosses decided to ditch the score as a means of filtering applicants after deciding the strong correlation between class and school performance means many able candidates from poorer backgrounds were stumbling at the first hurdle.

PwC has been rated the top graduate employer by the Sunday Times for the past 12 years and receives 17 applications for every graduate role it advertises.

Richard Irwin, PwC's head of student recruitment, said: "We want to target bright, talented people and extend our career opportunities to untapped talent in wider pockets of society.

"Our experience shows that whilst A Level assessment can indicate potential, for far too many students there are other factors that influence results.

"Competition and assessment for our graduate roles will be as tough as ever - but those that want to get on with a career in business can do so."

Gaenor Bagley, board member and head of people at PwC, said: "As a progressive employer we recognise that talent and potential presents itself in different ways and at different stages in people's lives.

"Removing the UCAS criteria will create a fairer and more modern system in which students are selected on their own merit, irrespective of their background or where they are from.

"By breaking down social barriers we will open the door to thousands of students who may have previously thought a graduate role with PwC was out of reach for them."

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, said: "Using a candidate's UCAS points to assess their potential is a blunt tool and a barrier to social mobility.

"This is an innovative step by one of the most significant graduate recruiters in the UK. Other graduate employers should follow their lead."

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