Change is in the air within the accounting profession – economic, political and electronic factors are all pushing the profession in a new direction where accountants become true business advisers helping to ensure businesses and communities survive.
Issues such as paying the right amount of tax, checking that firms aren’t unwittingly supporting practices contrary to human rights principles, ensuring good governance, taking a long term view of the sustainability of a business and, above all, transparency. These issues interest many of Gen Y, where the majority of new accountants are recruited.
Even though it offers the chance to become involved in issues that they care about, Gen Y often doesn’t consider accountancy as a possible career path. Among the many reasons for this is the perception that it’s only for a certain type of person. Access Accounting helps to address this issue by increasing social mobility.
But it’s not just a one way street, firms which support Access Accountancy are given access to a pool of untapped talent with the commitment and motivation to help develop the profession into its developing in society.
Mazars has played a leading role in developing this and related programmes and is firmly committed to the aims of the scheme. By 2019, we aim to have provided 56 students from less privileged backgrounds with comprehensive work experience programmes.
Students from years 10 to 13 will spend 30 hours a week on structured programmes which give them the experience and skills they need to work in a professional services firm. This includes tasters of the work they would do if they joined a firm as well as training in some of the skills that they would need. Senior Mazars people will spend time with the work experience students, enabling them to see the bigger picture of the firm’s work and role in society and providing feedback to the firm. To support them through the experience, each student has a Mazars ‘buddy’ to guide and mentor them on a one-to-one basis.
Involvement in the Access Accountancy programme is just one element of Mazars’ commitment to encouraging social mobility and helping the local community. For several years Mazars has been working with East London Business Alliance (ELBA), through the Business Action Groups for Schools (BAGS) Programme, to promote social mobility. We have also supported Lammas School in Waltham Forest and Sarah Bonnell School in Stratford and new associations with school across the UK are already being planned. .
Being involved with local schools over the longer term means Mazars can support the school and help young people to raise their expectations of what life ahead might hold for them. Our hope is that, by providing insights about what it might be like to work in accountancy and inspiration about what they could achieve both professionally and in the wider community, they will make the leap to a professional career. At the same time, accountancy will gain vital new and diverse approaches to the profession.