PwC: 'Tech has let us increase recruitment numbers, despite COVID-19'

  • Photo: Deborah Stevenson, student recruitment lead in PwC NI

    Professional services firm, PwC typically hires around 1500 graduates and school leavers every year, making it one of the largest graduate employers in the UK.

    However, for those taking their first steps on the career ladder, Covid-19 has thrown onboarding into disarray.

    In March, the firm was due to bring on 180 new starts nationwide.

    Deborah Stevenson, student recruitment lead in PwC NI, explained the challenges they faced and how they overcame them.

    “Once it became clear that we could no longer safely welcome the new graduates face to face, we approached the Home Office to allow Right to Work checks to be completed virtually as legally these have to be completed in person.

    “We successfully got the change through and then trained our recruitment team to do it digitally. We successfully onboarded all our graduates in Northern Ireland remotely - part of a total intake of 186 joiners across the UK - four days later and on time.”

    PwC planned to welcome nearly 400 graduates for internships this summer, but decided amidst the coronavirus crisis to postpone them.

    The company has guaranteed places on their training programme in autumn though, and said that thanks to technology it is now able to increase places on its work experience insight weeks.

    RELATED: PwC: 76% of NI employees now more productive when working from home

    Deborah continued: “The insight weeks are some of our most important programmes as one of their priorities is attracting students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

    “Typically we’re limited due to group sizes but as this will now be offered as a virtual experience, we have been able to increase numbers invited in Northern Ireland from 30 to almost 300 students - across the UK that’s a total of 5500.

    “Underlining our confidence in the future, we’ve also sent out guaranteed job offers on our graduate programme to around 400 undergraduate students who were due to join us for an internship this summer.

    “This means the students will enter their final year of university knowing that they have a job at the end of their studies, in what will likely be a challenging environment for new graduates. We decided this was the best solution in recognition of the investment and commitment the students have shown PwC.”

    RELATED: PwC NI: Why we need to invest in our young people’s tech talents early

    Michael Stewart joined the Belfast office’s PwC Research team at the end of March. He said:

    “Starting a new job at any time can be daunting but doing so remotely has the potential to be more challenging. Thankfully, there were many people on hand to support and guide me through the process.

    “Our laptops and phones were sent via courier to our homes and over the initial few days, I met online with my colleagues from PwC Research and had an opportunity to chat to senior management who were happy to answer any questions I had.

    “This included a virtual induction with the Regional Leader from Scotland, Claire Reid, and Paul Norbury, the Senior Partner for the East Midlands office. They both took time to answer any questions we had, and it was interesting to hear about their career journeys in PwC. We also were able to split off into groups to speak with our own Office Senior Partners.

    “Throughout the induction, we were shown how to use the different PwC digital tools and resources available to us, where to get support when we need it and learned about PwC's commitment to employee wellbeing, creating an inclusive environment and increasing our social impact. It was great getting to know our fellow new joiners and I was impressed by just how engaging our induction was.”

    Find out more about what roles PwC NI and other tech firms across Northern Ireland have to offer on our Sync NI Jobs page here.

    This article also appeared in the summer edition of the Sync NI magazine and it can be found here. 

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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