EY has revealed it welcomed a total of 1,048 graduates and apprentices in the UK this year despite the pandemic, against the 1,011 hired in 2019.
Some 854 graduates and 194 apprentices have joined 14 EY offices, with Edinburgh, Hull, Luton, Reading and Southampton noting a “particularly strong” intake against last year.
According to the firm, 45% of this year’s new starters joined EY’s regional offices across the country.
In addition, 43% of the student recruits this year were women, up from 39% last year, while 41% were from an ethnic minority, up from 38% last year.
A total of 3% of students were Black, according to EY, and as part of its “commitment to attract more diverse students”, 30% of work experience places on the EY Foundation’s Smart Futures/Our Futures programmes will be offered to Black young people for the next five years from September 2021.
Additionally, EY has set a target of offering at least 30% of places on its school leaver pathways to Black alumni from the Smart Futures and Our Futures programmes from next year.
In light of the pandemic, EY has adjusted its student recruitment programmes for a virtual environment, having introduced more one-to-one touchpoints for students with their line managers and coaches.
The group is also providing “tools and tips on working in a virtual world”, and will also host virtual networking sessions and more peer support groups.
Hywel Ball, EY UK chair, said: “Young talent is essential to our future business success and to shaping the skills we will need to remain competitive. I’m proud that we’ve maintained our commitment to student recruitment this year, despite COVID-19, and that we’ve honoured all the conditional offers we made prior to A-level results.
“At a time when many young people are facing a challenging labour market, our apprenticeship, graduate and internship programmes provide students and school leavers with a great opportunity to gain real hands-on experience, while also enhancing their skills and gaining a qualification.”