KPMG UK, one of the leading professional services firms in Scotland, invited young people into its offices throughout September as part of its new initiative, Opening Doors to Opportunity.
Designed to combat the influence of social class and nepotism in career progression, the initiative gives young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds a better chance of accessing early career opportunities.
150 school pupils took part in visits to KPMG’s offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow where they experienced life at a Big Four firm by taking part in activities mirroring real client problems requiring teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills.
Pupils from Buchanhaven School visited the firm’s Aberdeen office, which is well known for its diverse client base including many major energy clients. The firm’s Edinburgh office welcomed pupils from Preston Lodge and Auchmuty High Schools. Meanwhile Calderside Academy and Queen Margaret Academy pupils visited KPMG’s St Vincent Street office in Glasgow, the largest of the firm’s three Scottish bases.
Research conducted by KPMG UK revealed that social class and nepotism significantly affect the early career prospects of young people. The study, based on responses from 2,000 adolescents, showed that those from low socio-economic backgrounds were less likely to have gained formal or informal work experience compared to their peers from more privileged backgrounds. While around half of the average young population had some exposure to the world of work, only 40% from low socio-economic backgrounds had similar opportunities.
An overwhelming 71% of those surveyed believed that certain professions, like medicine, law, or accountancy, are easier to access if their parents or guardians also work in similar fields. Moreover, the research highlighted that family connections played a significant role in arranging work experience, with 45% securing opportunities through relatives or friends, while only 32% obtained them through schools.
James Kergon, Scotland senior partner at KPMG, who welcomed pupils to the Glasgow office, emphasised the importance of levelling the playing field for young talent, saying, “Many young people face unfair obstacles in their careers due to limited access to good work experiences and mentors. To combat this, KPMG has pledged to give one million young people the opportunity to develop their skills by 2030, building on our longstanding commitment to improving social mobility within our own business and our local communities.
“Supported by our brilliant colleagues, we continue to open our doors and give young people an important insight into the world of work by exposing them to some of challenges facing our clients. We know that when young people have meaningful encounters with workplaces, they are more likely to progress into fulfilling careers that they might not have felt were within their reach. I’m so pleased to be opening their eyes – and KPMG’s doors across Scotland.”
KPMG has been a pioneer in addressing social mobility issues within its profession for over a decade. In September 2021, the firm became one of the first businesses to publicly disclose its socio-economic background pay gaps, setting ambitious targets to increase the socio-economic diversity of its workforce. Additionally, KPMG UK published a groundbreaking “progression gap” analysis in December last year, highlighting the impact of socio-economic background on an individual’s career progression.