Deloitte has emerged as top employer of choice among university graduates in the Universum 2021 Talent Survey. The survey was conducted among almost 55 000 students across 27 South African universities by the employer branding agency Universum.
Deloitte came first in the accountancy and auditing field, ahead of local and global peers. Universum said the survey helps give insights into what students look for in employers when deciding on their career path. “We are very pleased and humbled by this recognition,” says Moagi Mpshe, the head of Audit Graduate Recruitment at Deloitte.
Mpshe, who heads up a team of 21 people to recruit and guide graduates towards becoming Chartered Accountants, says that about seven years ago, Deloitte recognised a need to change its approach to graduate recruitment. “We needed to do things differently,” says Mpshe, “We now place emphasis on bringing our people to connect with graduates and prospective employees. We want future talent to touch, feel and smell us”. Mpshe further notes that the Audit Graduate Recruitment team identifies people within Deloitte with “a passion for talent development” to work as campus managers and form a critical link with students.
Another change that the Deloitte team, and the rest of the industry, recognised is the need to increase the pool of potential graduates by starting a relationship with students much earlier in their careers, specifically at Grade 11 and 12, after subject choices have been made at grade 10 and the decision to potentially become a CA has been taken. This relationship is then intensified at campus level with a view to being formalised through employment. Mpshe says about 3% of those interviewed end up being hired, which demonstrates the competitive pressure for talent.
Once employed; graduates are exposed to a rigorous three-year training programme towards making them Chartered Accountants. This year, the team recruited 260 graduates and will, at any time, look after a pipeline of about 1400 trainees.
A key milestone in the process is writing the board exam in two instalments, 18 months apart. This year, Deloitte achieved an 83% pass rate against the 64,5% national pass rate for the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), including having four candidates in the national top ten.
Part of graduate engagement is having Deloitte’s leadership, up to and including at partner level, make time to talk to the graduate trainees about all aspects of their professional and personal lives, should they wish.
In addition to the technical skills acquired in their daily work, graduates also follow a professional development programme that teaches them skills including emotional intelligence, ethics, and soft skills such as business communication. A critical part of the training is also secondments to various parts of the business to give students maximum exposure.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns presented the team with new challenges, starting with how to connect with students. Mpshe says the first action that Deloitte took is to connect with students directly through virtual means purely “to check on how they are doing.” The team then rolled out a series of virtual programmes and webinars, covering a range of topics, including how to tackle remote working. These were extended both to students signed with Deloitte as well as those not formally attached to the firm. Some marketing events have also had to be held virtually.
Mpshe says ultimately, the aim is to have an open, transparent engagement to find an authentic match. “We provide graduates with enough information and encourage them to talk to other employers to decide if Deloitte is the best fit for them. And we recognise that it might not be,” he says.
The Deloitte team sees its relationship with graduates as lasting beyond their three years of training as some are retained within the South African firm, others move to various parts of the Deloitte global network and those who leave Deloitte completely may end up clients.