• Recruiting solutions: How EY is helping prepare students for a future workforce [video]

    June 12, 2017 by

     

    The skills gap has been well researched, particularly surrounding tech skills. Most employers, however, don’t need researchers to tell them that their recruiting strategies still aren’t attracting the skills they need for their future workforce. As the gap threatens to get wider, employers must consider big recruiting solutions. EY decided to face this challenge head on.

    College Recruiter recently spoke with Natasha Stough, Americas Director of Campus Recruiting at EY. EY was facing this very challenge, and they wanted to help prepare entry-level hires right out of college so that they would be able to succeed in a fast-changing industry. Employers with a need to increase the skills of their new hires entering the workforce can learn from EY’s solution.

    Through the Ernst & Young Foundation, EY created an Academic Resource Center (ARC), which now serves as their one-stop shop for college faculty in accounting and related disciplines across the country. With collaboration of university faculty, it provides access to relevant and timely curricula materials on cutting edge topics that are developed specifically for use in university classrooms, helping to prepare students in skills like analytics.

    Watch the video of our discussion with Natasha Stough and hear her account of EY’s success in creating the Academic Resource Center, or read the takeaways in the blog post below.

     

    EY developed the ARC when the organization was advocating the adoption of a single global set of accounting standards, the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). According to Natasha Stough, EY “immediately started hearing directly from faculty around their concerns that there weren’t a lot of textbooks and information around IFRS to help prepare their students for when they join the workforce.” The Foundation created the EY ARC as a one-stop-shop to offer free curriculua materials in response to faculty’s needs, particularly given the highly regulated public accounting environment in which EY operates, allowing them to “upskill their students and help better prepare them for the fast pace of change in the global marketplace.”

    Colleges and universities may not know what skills are required in practice, until employers help them. Schools want to advance their programs but as the cost of college goes up, they must evolve and stay relevant, or their program will just die off.

    The ARC relies on relationships. EY’s approach is to share timely information about what is happening in practice with EY leaders, who often sit on advisory boards of business schools. It’s important for faculty to approve the curriculum, and in turn, information comes back to EY about the needs of the schools. EY gathers these insights and develops materials on topics where there is the most need.

    “For the good of the profession”–demonstrating the ROI of a faculty resource center

    Invest to grow the talent in the workforceBuilding a center like EY’s ARC is a significant investment, especially when you consider the collaboration needed—with faculty and with the experienced professionals—that requires an enormous amount of time and financial support.

    First, Stough says that EY can track who uses the ARC and how much. It is only open to faculty from non-profit, higher education institutions. In addition to being able to the number of users, EY can also measure which materials are used the most, and from which schools across the country.

    In addition, however, EY gets direct feedback that supports the ROI. Stough says, “We hear constantly from faculty about the value the materials bring to them to help enrich the experience they’re providing to their students in the classroom to ensure they are learning the most current and relevant knowledge. We also hear how helpful it is for students to be able to gain insights into the pace of change in the accounting profession.”

    The obvious benefit is that faculty improve their understanding of where employers hold the bar in their field. Ultimately, says Stough, “We want to help them develop future employees. It’s for the good of the profession.” The brand building is not insignificant either. By providing meaningful resources, EY knows they are positioning themselves to faculty as a thought leader.

    Given how technology like AI and robotics changes the workforce and education, “we have to help,” says Stough. The technology skills that students learn in year one of college will change in four years; employers need students who will be life-long learners.


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    A good resource center has a variety of materials

    EY provides a lot of different content in the ARC. There are user guides, lecture notes, presentations, data sets, analytic workbooks, webcasts, how-to videos, cases, and homework assignments for students. EY even offers to bring their own professionals into their classroom.

    One key in creating good content is to keep the dialogue open. Faculty should provide feedback about the materials available, and what might be missing, considering leading-edge topics and technology. Stough says, “Our goal is to make it real. We want to give good examples and bring this content to life through these different formats.”

    That’s key too: bringing it to life. Without making the content easy to find and navigate, users will likely disengage. EY decided to even color-code some of its content and provide competency frameworks as well. That way, says Stough, “faculty can use chunks of content, or the entire thing, and understand how the material correlates to competencies they want to focus on.”

    It’s no secret that employers demand soft skills, and public accounting firms are no different, so EY has made sure to include non-accounting skill sets in the ARC. “We consider leading-edge topics to enhance life skills, of soft skills, for the future of the profession. We recently built materials around an Analytics Mindset, that is critical for frankly anyone,” says Stough.

    EY’s Academic Resource Center is an overall recruiting solution

    Invest and grow your next generation of employeesWhile an employer can track employee performance, “at the end of the day,”Stough says, you may not be able to draw a direct correlation between one individual’s performance and their association with the resource center. Students take so many classes, and building a resource center must stay focused on engaging faculty to understand the future skills needed. However, Stough does say that she’s seeing a change in the students she meets. Two major areas of EY’s focus have been soft skills and the importance of analyzing and interpreting data. “We’re now seeing more students come in knowing the difference between communicating via email or text.” Additionally, her team is “starting to see a diversification in the skills that students are bringing to the world of where we’re at, like concepts like an analytics mindset and the importance of data.

    Addressing the challenges of a resource center

    Developing a resource center full of relevant materials won’t stay relevant for long. The biggest challenge for EY, says Stough, is remaining current. She says they must ensure that they continue to integrate new content. “We want to make sure we’re meeting the needs of faculty. We are not going to tell them what they need to teach but we will provide resource that we believe to be valuable.”

    To achieve this, Stough stresses the need to maintain strong relationships with faculty, because they provide critical feedback. They want to know how useful their center is, and other topics where “faculty may be looking to gain more information.”

    They also keep doing outreach to build and maintain relationships. They engage with the American Accounting Association and many of their sub groups. As people like Stough travel to college campuses, they make sure to spend time with faculty, deans and department chairs, highlighting the ARC as a resource for them.

    “We want to be at the forefront,” says Stough. “Because it is our job to partner and support the universities to help them drive the curriculum so that their students are ready to join the workforce.”

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