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Ernst & Young offers school leavers an alternative to University

Ernst & Young has today launched a new school leaver programme.

With over 60 places available each year, the five-year training scheme is designed to provide an alternative to university. Students will be able to join the firm straight after A-Levels, at one of its offices across the UK, earning a competitive salary while also studying for a professional qualification. Applications for the first intake, which start in September 2012, are now open.

Stephen Isherwood, Ernst & Young's head of graduate recruitment, said while the firm's graduate recruitment scheme continues to increase in popularity, with applications up 30% this year, there is a growing demand from students and parents alike for an alternative to the traditional university career path into professional services.

He said: "With rising tuition fees and living costs, students are considering their next move after A-Levels more carefully than they perhaps have done in previous years. University is no longer the default; they are looking at all the options available.

"Through the launch of this programme we hope that we can contribute to ensuring that young students, from all social and economic backgrounds, are able to reach their career potential.

"Our school leaver programme isn't going to be right for everyone. But for those candidates who are focused on a career in accountancy, it provides a real alternative to university, with the chance to be paid as you learn. Participants will also get a head start with their careers, qualifying within 5 years of leaving school; ahead of peers who go to university and then join our 3 year graduate training scheme."

Ernst & Young's school leaver programme is an extension of a scheme that the firm's restructuring practice has been running successfully on a small scale for a number of years.

Liz Bingham, Ernst & Young's head of people, previously led the restructuring practice and also started her career straight from school. She added: "Based on my own experiences and having also seen the success of the school leaver scheme we've been running in our restructuring practice, I'm excited that we are able to launch this new programme for all areas of our business. It's a great supplement to our graduate trainee scheme and will ensure that we are able to continue to recruit the brightest and the best."