Joanne Corry, Student Recruitment Manager, PWC
“Our Higher Level Apprenticeship that we have with Queen’s University Belfast is a Software with Digital Technology. We have just recruited our fourth intake for 2021. It is a four-year degree programme, and you are an apprentice from Day One at Queen’s University.
“For us as a firm, this partnership brings a lot of benefits. We have students that are quite focussed on what they want to do and the career path that they want to take.
They complete placements throughout their time at University with PWC – in first and second year, a 3-month placement from June to August, and then in third and final year they do nine-month placements, split over two placements.
For us as a firm, it diversifies our workforce. So, we’re getting them straight from A level, they are learning up-to-date academic knowledge in that field and bringing those key skills into our workplace, which really benefits us as a firm.
We’ve had some amazing students in and we have already used some of their proposals of work they have done.
For the student, it is excellent. You are an employee of the firm from Day One. You get all your fees paid, you get a salary from PWC and alongside the salary and the University learning, you also have that support network in the firm as well.
So, you will be able to be mentored by people that are specialist in the area that you wish to pursue your career in and support your academic learning also.
We became involves in the HLA partnership because we felt it was necessary for our firm to look at other options and it’s been a real success to date.
It is important for PWC to have an influence on what’s covered within the programmme because that is what we need future employees of the firm to be aware of. Mixing that academic with industry experience gives the student a better overall experience of putting the theory in to practice, so it really important to have industry within that academic piece, to bring it all to life for the students and see how it works in the real world.
There is a learning experience to come with it. There is a bit more pastoral care needed and a bit of upskilling in professionalism and how to conduct a conversation with clients etc, but what I would say is they take it up really quickly because they’re really engaged and really committed to what they’re doing.
We don’t really see them as apprentices but as graduates within the firm because they are doing the same level of work and they are coming back with that experience each placement.
There is probably a bit of structure needed in place to support them because it is a big learning experience for them, going betweenUniversity and the workplace. We have put a lot of time and effort into that to make sure we do give all the support that’s required.”