As the fight for talent intensifies, companies are pulling out all the stops to attract and retain high-performing professionals. Training is among the most effective recruitment and retention tools.
Aiming to create a dream workplace for an average of 300 graduates every year, top-notch accounting firm KPMG has allocated substantial resources to remain at the cutting edge of staff training and development. "We highly value the importance of staff training. Our graduate development programme, for instance, assists young graduates with the smooth transformation from student to accounting professional," says Paul Neale, principal, KPMG Hong Kong.
Of utmost importance when devising quality training programmes for 113,000 employees worldwide is a prudent philosophy and vision. KPMG insists on formulating and conducting training to help employee develop "The KPMG Way", focusing on the necessary technical and soft skills that a professional accountant should possess. Training is also provided to maintain a high level of integrity and to ensure compliance with the company's code of practice.
To transform such philosophies into practice, KPMG has designed a broad spectrum of training programmes, such as the milestone event for prospective managers and the graduate development programme.
This year, the firm recruited 300 fresh graduates in Hong Kong and 1,600 students in China. All began training with KPMG's graduate development programme, which is designed to transfer knowledge gained at university into essential accountancy skills in the workplace. The programme begins with a two-week comprehensive orientation introducing the notion of professionalism, professional presence and basic client and teamwork skills. To cater for non-accounting graduates, a subsequent three-month conversion programme ensues followed by an exam assistance programme and methodology workshops.
Mr Neale notes that many new recruits did not actually major in accounting at undergraduate level. "However, one of our inductees in the last round, who majored in engineering, came out as the best performer and attained excellent exam results," he notes.
In addition, a buddy programme is incorporated to help fresh recruits adapt to the new environment. Buddies help new graduates settle into KPMG, for instance, through familiarisation with departmental procedures, and acting as points of contact.
Another important training programme in the company is a manager development programme, which includes training courses, awareness seminars and e-learning, further developing management-level trainees' skills and competency in the field. In addition to technical accountancy training, soft skills training such as networking expertise and presentation skills is also offered.
Integrity is an essential component of professional accountancy. Ensuring every member of staff acts with integrity, KPMG not only publishes a code of conduct but also educates staff on related issues through scenario studies and simulation exercises. Mr Neale notes that every member of staff must stay informed about ethical and legal standards which apply to their profession. Indeed, employees are actively encouraged to seek advice from senior members of the firm.
Since all-rounded training is essential for individual staff's development, KPMG also employs external training during which trainees are encouraged to develop essential qualities necessary in the workplace such as communication and people skills.
As globalisation prevails, KPMG is seeking increased levels of international exposure for all its accountants. Mr Neale reveals that this year several managers attended conferences and training programmes in Barcelona and New Delhi to gain a more global outlook, specifically in the accountancy field.
Since larger numbers of graduates are entering the accounting industry, a keener emphasis has been placed on the long-term learning and development of staff. In particular, an easily accessible new KPMG training centre that covers an entire floor in Taikoo Place on Hong Kong Island has been purposefully set up.
This choice of venue was made strategically as it has excellent accessibility and a flexible design. The centre incorporates five classrooms partitioned by mobile panels. The adjustable design allows the five rooms to be connected into one huge room for large functions such as recruitment days and group training sessions. Sofas and static computers are also abundant allowing trainees to work or chat together in a more relaxed atmosphere.
The simple but modern design coupled with a breathtaking sea view is even more impressive due to the subtle incorporation of the KPMG logo in the ceiling, floor and decorations.
Technology is an indispensable element in any modern classroom. In KPMG's new training centre, each classroom is equipped with audio and visual equipment and Internet connections. Moreover, trainees are provided with laptop computers when necessary.
Considering the state-of-the-art training centre, together with KPMG's sophisticated training programmes, Mr Neale is confident that KPMG will continue to nurture ever larger numbers of accounting professionals in the future.