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Leading accountancy firms launch social mobility drive

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The UK's largest accountancy firms, including KPMG, Deloitte, PwC and Grant Thornton, are collaborating on a project to help children from underprivileged backgrounds into the profession.

The Access Accountancy scheme was officially launched on Wednesday 2 April at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson secondary school in Islington. The commitments include a guarantee of 750 work targeted work placements a year throughout the profession. The long-term target is to deliver 3,750 high quality work placements by 2019. 

Other aims include collecting and analysing socioeconomic data on applicants for roles to ensure diversity across all backgrounds.

The last main pledge is to increase awareness of the accountancy profession by giving good quality and frequent talks in schools and colleges, giving young people practical knowledge of routes into the industry. 

Marianne Fallon, head of corporate affairs at KPMG, highlighted the need to help young people from across the country find routes into work. "We want the accountancy profession to reflect the society it serves," she said. "Access Accountancy is about opening the door to anyone who has the potential, the talent and the desire to succeed, whatever their background.”

David Barnes, managing partner for public policy and corporate responsibility at Deloitte, called the initiative "a crucial development for accounting".

He pointed out that accountancy is traditionally a top employer for young people, hiring on average a graduate every two hours. But he added that he was aware more focus on social mobility was necessary.

"It is important that accounting firms and professional bodies are now held responsible for the efforts they make in widening their socio-economic representation," he said.