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4th Oct, 2022

Olivia Maguire
Olivia Maguire
Job Title
Content Marketing Lead

Big four accountancy firm PwC recently announced it was removing the requirement that all new graduates and interns must have at least a 2:1 degree classification.

By removing the 2:1 requirement, PwC, one of the UK’s leading graduate employers, estimates that over 70,000 more students a year would be eligible to apply for undergraduate and graduate positions. This move will help them attract more talented professionals and diversify their talent pools – something that is particularly important in today’s candidate-driven market.

When you consider the impact that Covid-19 has had on many students’ education, with many people previously on track to achieve a second-class honours degree, but through no fault of their own, come out with a 2:2, it seems to be a sensible move. Understandably, many students may be fearful about their futures, but this decision by PwC shows that while academic achievement is a factor in career success, it is not the most important factor, and this may be something other organisations might want to consider when hiring.

To find out more about the reasoning behind the decision, we interviewed Cathy Baxter, Head of Early Careers at PwC:

Cathy Baxter, PwC

Q: Why did you remove the requirement that new employees must achieve a minimum of a 2:1 at university?

A: We believe that academic qualifications alone are not an indicator of workplace potential and that, for too many students, there are other factors that influence results. Removing this entry requirement for all our graduate roles and undergraduate internships and placements is designed to open opportunities to more people.

Q: What impact do you think this will have on your talent attraction strategy?

A: Changing the entry criteria will enable PwC to further diversify its graduate intake through broader access to talented young people, who may not have the top academic achievements, but have the attributes and all-round proven capabilities for a career with the firm.

Q: What has been the response so far?

A: We have received a really positive response to the announcement, the social media post was our most liked post ever, shared through our careers channels, on LinkedIn and Instagram. We have also had comments from other organisations about hoping to follow suit, so we really do hope that this drives positive change across early careers recruitment.

Q: Have you received more applications?

A: It is early days in the early careers recruitment cycle, as our vacancies only went live at the beginning of September, however we have seen a really positive start to the new season.

When we removed UCAS requirements from the selection process a number of years ago and we saw a positive impact on the broader access to candidates as well.

Q: What are the most important factors you look for when hiring someone? And how has this now changed?

A: Our selection process is designed around the ‘PwC Professional Behaviours’ which is a global framework. Through the selection process, we look at someone’s future potential against our competencies, and this hasn’t changed with the removal of the 2.1 requirement. We have the confidence that our selection process is helping us to make informed hiring decisions about a candidate's future capability, not on their past performance.

Q: What impact will this have on diversity and inclusion across the business?

A: It’s a move that we hope will drive change in the socio-economic background diversity of the professional services industry, and how companies assess potential more broadly.

Q: How will you make sure you are hiring the best talent?

A: Our selection process has been designed with experts to identify talent based on their potential to perform to a high standard in their roles at PwC. Our technology-enabled process is accessible, inclusive, and aims to remove bias from hiring decisions. We’ve used our technology-enabled selection process for several years and continue to be impressed with the quality of our undergraduate and graduate joiners.

If you are looking to recruit the next great professional for your team, get in touch with your local recruitment specialist today.