A New Spin on Accounting Careers: Big Four Firm Dangles $20/Hour Carrot for Teen Talent

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KPMG is offering high schoolers paid internships to help fix accounting’s staffing shortage.

Autumn Kimborough, 17, said that she wasn’t very passionate about accounting. However, the incoming high school senior from Flossmoor, Illinois, became enthusiastic when he learned of a lucrative summer internship at KPMG that came with a $250 wardrobe allowance.

According to Jennifer Flynn, KPMG’s community impact lead, the Big Four accounting firm organised a three-week session aimed at high schools for the first time with the particular intention of inspiring younger persons to choose a career in the area.

The summer internship programme, which includes a business etiquette lesson among other skill-development resources, provides $20 or $22 an hour plus clothes, transportation, and lunch stipends to close to 200 youths.

Additionally, mentors are assigned to students, who are followed by them. According to Flynn, “We wanted to make sure our interns are getting a really full experience.”

Being a CPA, according to Kimborough, “I had some preconceived notions that it’s sitting at a desk,” “Now that I know you can travel and meet people with accounting, that’s what drew me in.”

With its long hours, tight deadlines, and negative stereotypes, the profession is losing more individuals than it is gaining.

Instead, fresh out of college students are opting to work in similar industries like investment banking, consultancy, or data analysis. It also doesn’t help that you need more credits to become a certified public accountant.

Other accounting businesses and nonprofit organisations are also experimenting with novel approaches to solve the talent pipeline issue by directly targeting teens.

A dual enrollment pilot programme was recently launched in New York by The Deloitte Foundation, Urban Assembly, and Outlier.org, which partners with schools to provide for-credit online college courses.

Some juniors and seniors in public high schools will be able to enrol in the University of Pittsburgh’s Intro to Financial Accounting curriculum beginning in the autumn and earn three college credits, which they can then transfer to the institution of their choosing.

Additionally, encouraging more diverse students to think about jobs in accounting is an aim.

Elena Richards, KPMG’s chief diversity, equality, and inclusion officer, stated, “We recognise this isn’t the sexiest of professions. “We really want to concentrate on starting earlier and reaching a wider audience,”

“This is our way of letting them know that there are lots of opportunities in this line of work.”

Separate studies reveal that the lack of diversity in the field is another factor in the industry’s inability to draw in fresh talent. Despite the fact that there are many job prospects in the sector, only 2% of CPAs are Black and 5% are Hispanic, according to a recent AICPA Trends Report.

According to other reports, accounting frequently ranks among the top professions with the highest employment prospects and six-figure pay.

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