Stories of our impact

Writing a brighter future

Zoe Dexter joined Deloitte as a BrightStart apprentice in our Reading office three years ago, and is currently an assistant manager within Audit & Risk Advisory. She’s passionate and driven about her career, and decided to organise an essay competition to open the eyes of young students to different career options. Here’s how she made it happen.

At a crossroads

“School leavers face life-changing decisions: do I continue my studies at university? What are the alternatives? Is it time for a gap year? Looking back, the careers advice at my school over-emphasised the traditional university route, and there was a lack of awareness of alternative pathways available, such as apprenticeship schemes. Many of my peers shared this experience, so along with a team of apprentices at Deloitte we organised an essay competition to engage with local schools across the south of England.

Open to students in years 11 to 13 at schools within the area, the competition asked them to write about a business-related topic – including globalisation, corporate tax and unemployment among youth – with three winners being offered work experience in our Reading office. We had to jump through a few hoops first: identifying and contacting schools, encouraging students from disadvantaged backgrounds to take part, and defining the work experience we could offer. And then there was the biggest challenge of all – would anyone even enter?”

An inspiring result

“We employed a targeted approach to spread the word, communicating with head teachers and students through mailshots, flyers, direct contacts and social media. We also implemented a school- and candidate-blind selection process to prevent any unconscious bias. There was such a buzz in the local schools, we needn’t have worried about lack of interest – over 100 entries came pouring in, covering topics from “what happens when the carbon bubble bursts?” to “what can the UK economy learn from Germany?”

The awards ceremony was attended by students, teachers and parents, who learnt about our employment and Access schemes, and heard directly from our apprentices about their own experiences of working at Deloitte. Our winners spent two days work-shadowing audit and tax practitioners, and also attended CV and interview workshops.

Our apprenticeship pipeline has been stronger than ever since running the competition. By building strong links with local schools and encouraging ambitious young people to aim high, no matter their backgrounds or personal circumstances, we’re helping to inspire the next generation of professionals.”