The value of a traditional university education is under the spotlight. Concerns over affordability, the rise in popularity of other pathways into employment coupled with criticism from some quarters over the ‘work-readiness’ of graduates has called the relevance of higher education into question.

Closer collaboration is required to close the gap and ensure our education system delivers for students and business. To achieve this employers need to start communicating more effectively with education providers on the attributes they require from graduates. In return, universities must also reach out to businesses and understand the skills they need.

The latest initiative to come from this collaboration was a complete rethink of our graduate recruitment process, which led to the creation of Launch Pad. Launch Pad condenses the usual interview and assessment process into one intensive, high-energy day bringing in people from all across the firm, including our leaders, to give applicants a real taste of life at KPMG. Not only does the whole experience take just one day, we commit to communicating an outcome to candidates within two working days.

When we talked to recent graduates, the length of the recruitment process and the stress that can come with it, was a major source of frustration. The first round of Launch Pad this autumn has been a huge success, with 97 percent of the candidates surveyed rating their Launch Pad experience as better than the graduate recruitment events of our competitors.

“To ensure that as a firm we attract the best talent, we work closely with universities through their current cohort and their alumni to understand what graduates want from a recruitment process. We also continually reassess the effectiveness of our graduate recruitment process to offer candidates the best possible experience and the opportunity to learn and gain new skills.”

Due to its innovative approach, Launch Pad makes KPMG more accessible to all, therefore should play a part in widening the diversity of our talent pool. While we continue to be a proud employer of graduates, we are also investing in other routes into the profession. For example our apprenticeship scheme, which can provide another path through the education system and a fresh way of looking at a university degree.

In a fast paced world we need people who are curious, adaptable and agile in their thinking. Education is no longer measured by a degree result, but the skills a graduate gains over the course of their studies. It is these skills which enable them to contribute their ideas and innovation to the workforce and society. It is vital that businesses talk to universities about the skills we need for the future and in turn, listen to the insight they can provide on the next generation, and how to build an environment in which they can flourish.