Widening the net

June 2021

EY Foundation launches an employability programme for professional services sector.

The EY Foundation, an independent charity, has launched a new programme to help young people from low-income backgrounds gain employment in the professional services sector.

The two-year professional services programme includes paid work experience and employability skills training and will run during school holidays. Its aim is to support young people from more diverse backgrounds into work.

The first cohort of young people started over the Easter holidays, where they learnt a range of essential skills to help them enter and thrive in the professional workplace. Delivered virtually, Anna Anthony, EY UK Managing Partner for Financial Services, took part as a judge in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event, where the young people pitched ideas for a new social enterprise.

Speaking afterwards, Anthony said: “Professional services can feel distant and even off limits for some young people and that must end. This programme opens the door to a new wave of young talent and helps them to get a real feel and understanding of the sector. I was hugely impressed by the quality of ideas, enthusiasm, confidence and ability to present. It is so important we continue to run programmes like this to ensure the pipeline is made up of the best talent, regardless of background.”

Grant Beecham, Senior Innovation Manager from Linklaters, was also a judge and the organisation is another employer partner supporting the programme. He said: “This was a fantastic event to take part in. The students really impressed us in how they structured their presentations, and worked well together to deliver effective and engaging content.

They rose to the challenge with creativity and enthusiasm. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience volunteering with the EY Foundation and would recommend it to others.”

The programme aims to give students a head start securing a job in the professional services industry. Support includes being given a mentor for up to 24 months to advise them as they take their first step into working life – from application and recruitment, then ongoing once in a job.

Acting CEO of the EY Foundation, Lynne Peabody said: “This is a tough time for young people looking for work and professional services can appear especially difficult to enter.

By bringing different employers together we will showcase the range of different roles available and encourage diverse new talent to join – and thrive – in the sector.”

Following the event, 17-year-old Aimal, one of the young people currently taking part in the programme, also said: “The business challenge was both very fun and insightful, I was able to collaborate with my teammates to present an idea we were all passionate about.

We implemented techniques and skills learnt previously in the programme to ensure we worked as efficiently as possible. As well as being able to tangibly see our new skills come into play, working together in a high-pressure scenario was incredibly enjoyable!”

The programme is formally recognised and approved by the Institute of Leadership and Management. Students from all backgrounds are welcomed from across England and Scotland.

The professional services programme is supported by corporate partner organisations and any employers wanting to find out more should contact kathryn.eastwood@eyfoundation.ey.com