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Does talent in the A-Level student pool have real choice?
Thought Leadership //17-08-2016

Does talent in the A-Level student pool have real choice?

by Alex Arundale, Chief People Officer, OneAdvanced

A-level results are announced tomorrow (August 18th) and it’s fair to say that students are facing a tougher situation than ever. Universities may be scrambling around to do their utmost to attract the next crop of postgraduate talent by reducing entry grades and offering deals, but with the rising cost of going to university – average debts of students having completed three years full-time higher education is now at £44k – it’s fair to say that university is not a real choice for all. So what does this mean for school leavers considering their options?

The NUS (National Union of Students) has only this month suggested that universities are arguably ‘slamming the doors on talent without the incomes to further their talents’. So where should those talented, highly dynamic individuals for who university is not viable for whatever reason, turn?

The world in which we live is changing – arguably at a faster pace than ever. The digital era is impacting all our lives and the world of work. So, is it time to evolve the traditional paths we followed to secure the kinds of career opportunities so many of us have achieved?

I don’t think anyone would deny that higher education gives people access to a great life-learning experience and ensures students learn the skills and qualifications required for many professional roles.

But surely those talented individuals where higher education isn’t an option – for whatever reason –deserve a choice? Is it therefore time for us to re-imagine the path to professional success and look at alternative ways to fast track career success. In fact, does this provide a unique opportunity for businesses to attract a new generation of dynamic, high performing and motivated individuals?

Businesses are having to adapt to find them and some forward thinking organisations have already embraced the changing times. Like Advanced, accountancy firm KPMG has changed its graduate recruitment process to suit people born between 1980 and 2000 – the so-called ‘millennial generation’. Instead of conducting three separate assessments over several weeks, they are now combining the process into one day as research found that millennials were frustrated by lengthy recruitment processes.

Similarly, PWC’s latest report, which aims to provide some insight into the minds of new graduates from around the world, suggests that one of the defining characteristics of the millennial generation is their affinity with the digital world. They have grown up with broadband, smartphones, laptops and social media being the norm and expect instant access to information, making them the first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of key business technologies then more senior workers.

So just as businesses are competing fiercely for the best available talent and every year more and more reports indicate that it will be recruited from the ranks of millennials, surely this untapped pool of talent struggling to decide their education and career paths represents a great opportunity for us all to disrupt the way we engage?

Here at Advanced we’re no different in working to adapt to this environment – we’re reimagining our business to ensure we attract this versatile talent and are ready to embrace future changes. Going through our own transformation earlier this year, we launched a new talent acquisition programme (read more here). We will shortly be unveiling initial results about our findings and the success we’ve had in attracting and retaining high performing, dynamic individuals from all backgrounds – those with and those without degrees.

So keep an eye out for our news. Just as students are facing uncertain times and having to reimagine their future paths to maximise their potential, so business leaders and HR teams are revising their current strategies to capitalise on a generation of emerging talent.

Alex Arundale, Group HR Director, Advanced

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Alex Arundale

Alex Arundale


Chief People Officer, OneAdvanced

Alex joined OneAdvanced in February 2016 with a track record in senior HR positions. She has been responsible for innovative strategies to lead the company’s talent management.

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