Companies ignoring potential

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UK companies could be missing a trick when it comes to maximising their recruitment and training budget by ignoring the potential of employing school leavers – according to the Association of Accounting Technicians, a leading accounting and finance body.

Recent research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggested that many employers are just not prepared to take a chance on school leavers due to their perceived lack of experience and people skills, but those that do, particularly in accounting and finance roles, are now favouring them in preference to graduates, says the AAT.

“In the current climate, what businesses need is flexibility,” says Rob Alder, Business Development Manager at the AAT. “They need staff that are willing to grow with a business and be open-minded to different opportunities, and adaptable to try new things.”

The AAT surveyed 500 leading UK employers and found that, for accounting and finance roles, 76% of companies agreed that school leavers are more flexible than graduates about their early career path. Indeed, over a third of businesses said that they will be recruiting more school leavers than graduates in the future (35% versus 14%) and more than a quarter of employers felt that job prospects in their companies will improve faster for school leavers than graduates.

“If we’re looking at bottom line results, nearly two-thirds of businesses just don’t feel that graduates offer good value – either in terms of the skills they bring or a ‘can do’ attitude,” explains Alder. “On the other hand, what school leavers may lack in maturity and immediate experience, they more than make up for in enthusiasm and responsiveness to training.”

“Many employers also tell us that school leavers are easier to mould into the company culture and, as a result, are likely to stay longer in that organisation – whereas graduates are more likely to leave.”