A COHORT of 20 Scottish university graduates will take up entry-level positions at technology services company Accenture’s Edinburgh office over the next 12 months.

The move comes after a survey last week indicated that less than a third of students here planned to stay in the country after graduating.

That research came from business services group Grant Thornton, who questioned more than 1000 university students and found that only 32% planned to stay in Scotland – compared to 69% of London students who said they wanted to stay there.

Grant Thornton said Scotland faced a talent retention challenge, but Accenture said its new appointments would address that.

It follows an extensive recruitment campaign with Scottish universities to ensure that some of the best talent stays in Scotland.

Accenture employs around 200 people across Scotland, which includes a four-fold increase in its Edinburgh-based workforce over the past ten years.

The new graduate recruits will embark on a comprehensive training programme designed to equip them with the skills required they will need in the digital economy. They will work with the latest technologies, including artificial intelligence and blockchain, as part of digital transformation projects for clients.

Accenture is continuing to recruit employees at all levels in Edinburgh and Glasgow for the regional expansion of its UK Advanced Technology Centre in Newcastle. Its aim is to support clients by harnessing local talent and bringing in new skills and expertise through a flexible workforce model.

Accenture has also established a technology experience zone in its new Edinburgh office at Atria One, in the heart of the capital’s financial district, where it will showcase the latest in technology innovations for clients in the financial services, energy and telecoms sectors.

“Scotland is a hotbed of technology expertise – from university graduates to start-up ventures and global businesses – and accessing local talent and providing the environment in which that talent can grow and develop is key to our plans for continued growth,” said Bill McDonald, who leads Accenture’s business in Scotland. “We support clients locally across a variety of industry sectors, all of whom have an international outlook, so ensuring we have the best talent available is critical.

“While we can and will bring in global experts from around our organisation, it’s important that we retain an understanding of the local business environment, and that means ensuring we have the right expertise on the ground.”

Marianne Breen-Hart, community and business operations lead for Accenture in Scotland, added: “Our graduate recruitment campaign over the last 18 months has seen us work with our university partners in Scotland to reach the most talented individuals in the region.

“In addition to the world-class training we provide at Accenture, new joiners can participate in company-wide initiatives in areas such as well-being and inclusion and can contribute to the wider community through the company’s extensive corporate citizenship programme.

“We believe that this combination of professional and personal development opportunities gives us a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining today’s graduates,” she added.