Our stories

Recruiting differently during COVID-19

Every year, we hire thousands of new employees. This year has been no exception, but as the world changed around us we needed to pivot quickly and accelerate our use of technology to make sure we could honour our employment offers for both experienced professionals and students starting their careers with PwC.

Setting the scene

PwC is one of the largest graduate employers in the UK, and this year we hired 1,534 graduates and school leavers, as well as 281 students who joined our Flying Start degree programmes.

Normally senior leaders welcome new joiners to PwC, running large scale events where hundreds of people meet together. The new joiners then arrive in offices to meet their teams, begin face to face training and study for professional qualifications. 

Prior to lockdown, we welcomed 1,348 graduates and school leavers, plus the 281 Flying Start students. From the 17th March lockdown through to our June year end, we welcomed a further 186 graduates and school leavers.

How we helped

It soon became clear that we could no longer safely welcome our new employees using our traditional processes so we rapidly approached the Home Office to seek permission to complete Right to Work checks virtually.

While awaiting confirmation, our recruitment, learning and development, IT and legal teams worked together to create a new, entirely virtual onboarding experience. This involved redesigning induction events and processes to become completely digital. To enable us to connect with our new joiners we used couriers to deliver laptops to individual homes and welcomed them via a livestream. 

We also adapted our work experience programme. Typically we would welcome 595 school students, 50% of whom are from lower socio-economic backgrounds. This was instead offered as a Virtual Insight Week covering sessions on accounting, digital, business and professionals skills, as well as diversity, wellbeing and the future of work. The new digital nature of the week allowed us to open up the course more widely to all 5,431 of the students who applied for a place on the programme. 

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“We quickly made the decision to honour the offers we’d made, so our recruitment team had to pivot quickly, and use their creativity to find new ways to communicate with students - to reassure them and most importantly welcome them to their new career.”

Louise Farrar, Director of Student Recruitment

Making a difference

Due to office closures, we were unable to run our three day paid ‘Women in Business’ work experience programme. In order to recognise the commitment shown by the students we invited 88 offer holders to join us in 2021 on either our internship or graduate programme.

294 penultimate year undergraduate students who were due to join us for an internship in Summer 2020 were instead offered places on our 2021 graduate programme.  

The collaboration and innovation shown by our teams in response to the pandemic over the Spring and Summer months meant that we were in a position to successfully onboard our September 2020 intake of more than 1,300 new students. 

The virtual onboarding process was a first for PwC, but was made possible by the commitment of our people to find new ways to do the right thing and work together. It was a huge joined up effort across numerous teams and the investment we’d already made in technology and digital infrastructure allowed us to be agile and think differently to solve this problem.

Contact us

Annual Review enquiries

Corporate Affairs, PwC United Kingdom

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