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Are you offering your PQs the right types of study support? Hays’ Karen Young analyses the results of a joint PQ/Hays survey

April 2017

For many PQs, study support from employers is an extremely important aspect of career development. Our Study Support survey, in partnership with PQ magazine, sought to highlight the different types of study support offered to trainee accountants and look at how employers can improve the study support they currently offer part qualifieds.
As a PQ accountant you are likely to be studying for one of the CIMA, ACCA, AAT, ICAEW or ICAS qualifications. However, our recent study support survey found that among different generations the importance placed on career development by PQs varied.
Of the 395 respondents that took part in our survey, the results showed that career development was the most important factor when considering a new role for PQs. However, it was also revealed that ‘Baby Boomers’ and ‘Gen X’ were 28% less likely to have all or part of their exams paid for by their employers than ‘Gen Y’ and ‘Gen Z’.
Types of study support offered to PQs by employers include: paying for exams, tuition fees, study materials, exam retakes and being paid during exams and study leave. Across the board we found that similarly Gen Y and Gen Z were more likely to receive these types of study support than those respondents who were Gen X and Baby Boomers.
When PQs were asked if their employers paid all or part of their tuition fees, 55% of Gen Y and Gen Z stated their employer contributed either in full or in part, yet only 26% of Gen X and Baby boomers could say the same for their employer. We saw the same exact response when asked if employers paid for study materials, again showing a significant difference in the study support given to different generations.
Another significant difference the survey revealed in study support offered by employers, was pay during exams and study leave, with 66% of Gen Y and Z receiving pay during this time, but only 43% of Baby Boomers and Gen X experiencing the same support.
Whether an employer pays for exam retakes is slightly different to the other types of support mentioned, in that many employers understandably may feel less inclined to do so if you do happen to fail an exam. The responses from our survey reflect this, as only 22% of Gen Y and Z and 12% of Baby Boomers and Gen X said their employer pays for exam retakes.
As we looked closer at the results we noted that in line with this, it was no surprise then, that the survey also found that only 38% of Gen X actually placed career development opportunities as the most important factor when considering a new role, compared to more than half of Gen Y stating that career development was most important to them. Benefits offered was the second most important factor for Gen Y when considering a new role, while Gen X were more concerned with work-life balance as this was stated as the second most important factor for this generation.
As the workforce continues to change, it is no surprise organisations will need to work harder to adapt their reward and benefit offering to the needs of a multi-generational workforce, and for accountancy employers this could include adapting the support offered for study to PQs by making benefits options more flexible.
We also found a significant generational difference when looking at those who were offered paid study support as standard from their employer. With only 26% of Baby Boomers and Gen X actually receiving study support as standard while almost double (50%) of Gen Y and Z were offered paid support as standard. Further to this, 61% of Baby Boomers and Gen X rated the study support offered by their employer as poor or very poor, while only 36% of Gen Y and Z said the same.
At Hays, we have found that for those professionals who are set on becoming qualified accountants, career development and study support opportunities are always more important than salary alone and can often be the motivating factor for retaining or attracting talented professionals. With acute skills shortages and competition for top talent increasing employers of PQ’s will have to offer or continue to offer professionals study support, alongside a competitive salary and a choice of flexible benefits, if they want to retain and attract the talent they need to achieve business success.
• Karen Young, Director, Hays Accountancy & Finance

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