Education & Skills
We harness the power of education to drive opportunity for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
Our vision is to drive opportunity in disadvantaged communities across the UK, to ensure where you’re from, or your background, does not dictate your life chances. We’re committed to supporting the next generation to develop the skills they need to succeed.
We do this through focusing on the following:
“The social mobility gap is widening and more so than ever, young people are paying the price. Businesses, including our own, need to play an active role to change this. If we want to nurture the talent of tomorrow, we need to open our doors and offer the opportunity to come and see inside our firm to learn what work is like. And to help the next generation succeed, we need to equip them with skills that are highly valued in the workplace, such as problem solving and creative thinking.”
Jon Holt Chief Executive, KPMG in the UK
We have pledged to give one million young people the opportunity to build their skills by 2030. As part of this, KPMG will be opening its doors to give even more young people from areas of low social mobility, insight into the world of work.
Our Opening Doors to Opportunities programme will invite schools across the UK - from inner cities to rural and coastal areas - into our offices. During these visits, participants will build their teamwork, leadership and problem-solving skills, while working through challenges similar to those faced by KPMG’s own clients.
Oli de Botton, Chief Executive of the Careers & Enterprise Company said: “KPMG’s ‘Opening Doors to Opportunity’ programme is an exciting social mobility initiative. Providing young people with meaningful encounters with employers is at the heart of modern 21st century careers education.
“They are particularly important for young people who face the most barriers as they can lack social networks and employer connections.
“Encounters like these are more than a window into the world of work, they help build essential skills through hands on experience, link learning to life beyond the school gates and help young people see how they can take their best next step.”
Literacy and numeracy are the key building blocks of social mobility and ensuring that every young child in society has equal opportunity to thrive is essential if we are to build a fairer and more prosperous society for all.Rachel Hopcroft / Partner and Head of Corporate Affairs.
Literacy and numeracy – which form the building blocks of social mobility – along with essential and future skills are fundamental to young people’s future success and ensuring there’s a diverse and empowered workforce of the future. Yet, in the UK, approximately half the adult population have the numeracy ability of an 11 year-old1 and over three-quarters of a million children do not have access to books.2 That’s why we are using our convening power to effect change across these key building blocks of social mobility. From collaborating with the Marcus Rashford Book Club, to helping develop green and digital skills, equipping young people with essential skills3, and being the founding supporter of the award-winning National Numeracy Day. Everything we do helps to build a fairer future for young people.
1) National Numeracy: A new approach to making the UK numerate
2) One in seven state primary schools does not have a designated library space | National Literacy Trust
3) The Skills Builder Partnership
According to the National Literacy Trust’s (NLT) ninth annual reading survey of children, daily reading levels are at the lowest ever recorded, with just over 25% of children saying they read daily in their free time.1 Poor literacy skills hold people back. The UK lags at 18th position in OECD rankings for maths.1 Nearly half of the UK’s working population has the expected numeracy level of a primary school child.2 Not only does this have real consequences for the individuals concerned – leaving them more vulnerable to debt, unemployment or fraud – but it severely hinders Britain’s productivity too. Poor numeracy is estimated to cost our economy a staggering £25 billion a year,3 so this is as much a business issue as it is a societal one.
Together, KPMG and the NLT founded the award winning2 Vision for Literacy Business Pledge to champion much needed change. Established in 2015, in 2023 97 leading businesses publicly committed to help close the nation’s literacy gap and boost social mobility.3
We’ve also collaborated with the NLT and the Marcus Rashford Book Club to give more children the gift of reading. In 2022, we donated over 75,000 books to communities with the lowest literacy levels and have committed to donate a further 50,000 in 2023. Our book donations are themed around a specific topic, such as the environment, racial and gender equality, and mental health, helping children and young people to better understand the world around them.
My son came home from school so excited about receiving the book and has been reading it, telling family members about it and, honestly, we the parents were excited too. Thank you so much for thinking of this great idea and for all you do to make a difference in children.Eden / Parent of child at a school participating in the Marcus Rashford Book Club.
Together with charity National Numeracy, KPMG founded National Numeracy Day in 2018. As the UK’s only day dedicated to building brighter futures through improved number confidence and competence, whether that’s managing household budgets, applying for a new job or helping children with homework.
Since its inception, the campaign has inspired 650,000 actions to improve numeracy skills and has helped to surface the national debate about a culture of math’s anxiety that holds the nation back when it comes to productivity and social mobility.
The sixth National Numeracy Day took place on 17 May 2023. The campaign garnered support from thousands of organisations including leading consumer brands, schools and colleges, as well as government departments.
KPMG offices and university partners in Leeds, Nottingham and Cambridge hosted a roadshow of in-person and virtual maths masterclasses for 4,000 students in collaboration with the Royal Institution.
Launched in September 2021 with the support of the then Chancellor of Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, the National Numeracy Leadership Council brings together leading businesses to accelerate action on poor numeracy. Bina Mehta, Chair, KPMG in the UK, is an inaugural member of the Council and together, members are building sustained and collective effort across business, government and every aspect of civil society to tackle this issue.
KPMG has been proud to support Skills Builder since 2017, when the KPMG Foundation provided seed funding to the organisation. Skills Builder is an organisation that aims to support the development of essential skills people need to thrive in work and life. Their robust framework identifies 8 essential skills that are embedded across KPMG’s programmes to support young people to transition from education to the workplace.
In March 2023 KPMG and Skills Builder published the Essential Skills Tracker, a new piece of research which finds that lack of essential skills cost the UK economy £22 billion last year.
“Driving greater social equality is the defining societal and economic challenge of our time, and essential skills such as communication, problem-solving and teamwork are key to levelling the playing field and unlocking opportunities. By empowering individuals, we can create better outcomes for our society as a whole. Costing our economy £22bn1 last year alone, and adding nearly £5,000 to one’s earning potential, the social and business imperative for tackling low essential skills is clear.” Bina Mehta Chair, KPMG in the UK
In December 2021, we came together with our peers in five of the big accountancy firms to found the RISE Initiative. Through this collaborative initiative, our volunteers support young people in social mobility cold spots to develop essential skills and better understand career pathways into our industry. Last year, we collectively supported 2,810 young people, and since its launch a further 16 professional services firms3 have joined the initiative enabling us to reach even more young people.
As a people business we have a unique opportunity to ensure young people are equipped with the skills to succeed in the future job market, and to ensure that our society has the skilled workers to drive economic growth and future prosperity
The Net Zero economy is going to bring about an unprecedented demand for ‘green skills.’ Ensuring that the green jobs revolution is fair and inclusive is important to us as we expand our education future work skills programme. We’re working with schools in areas of low social mobility to build students’ ‘sustainability mindset’ and help prepare and excite them for the changing world of work.
In the 2021-22 academic year, we worked with the Economist Educational Foundation to support 17,000 students to develop critical thinking, literacy and numeracy skills around the world’s biggest challenge: climate change.
To mark COP27, schools across the UK joined our “Inspiring Positive Climate Action” broadcast. The session took students behind the scenes of COP27 event and gave advice on the action young people can take to tackle the climate crisis.
Our flagship employability programme, WorkReady, has educated more than 19,000 students (2013-2022) about the changing world of work through developing their digital literacy and green skills. The programme has been developed in collaboration with The Talent Foundry, and is delivered exclusively in social mobility coldspots, Opportunity Areas and areas of high deprivation.
According to research conducted by Tech Nation, the UK technology workforce is broadly made up of 81% men and 19% women. KPMG’s IT’s Her Future Juniors Programme encourages girls to explore a career in technology. By engaging teachers and parents, it also helps educate the influencers about the opportunities for girls in technology, which helps to build a pipeline of diverse talent. KPMG’s Cyber Savvy programme also aims to educate the next generation on how to navigate an ever-changing digital environment.
Well done to our brilliant Cloud Engineers who came up with this tech challenge idea and brought it to life. What I love is that not only did our colleagues get to learn about the Cloud together we also raised a substantial sum for charity and brought Cloud knowledge to so many school children at the same time.Lisa Heneghan / Global Chief Digital Officer, KPMG International