“Big four” accountancy firm Deloitte has scrapped its summer internship scheme for students as it looks to cut costs during the coronavirus crisis.
Candidates will be handed a £500 “goodwill payment”, which is a sixth of the amount some would have earned over the summer.
Instead, the 350 university students who were offered a place on the scheme will be able to join an online training programme.
Deloitte said safety was its priority.
“In light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we are inviting students who were due to take part in the firm’s summer vacation scheme to take part in a voluntary four-week virtual mentorship programme instead,” the accountancy firm said in a statement.
Last month, the head of Deloitte in the UK told staff that partners at the firm would have their pay cut by about a fifth.
In a blog, Richard Houston said there would be no annual salary increases, while bonuses would be slashed and put back to later in the year.
“As part of this package of actions, partner annual earnings are expected to decline by around 20% and we have deferred profit distributions,” he said, adding that the moves were the right thing to do to “protect jobs and our business for the foreseeable future”.
The firm also offered staff the option to reduce their working hours. Rivals EY, PwC and BDO have also cut some salaries.
Candidates on the summer programme were told of Deloitte’s plan to scrap the scheme during a webinar.
The internship typically lasts between two and six weeks, depending on which part of the firm candidates join.
It is designed for students on undergraduate courses or those about to start a master’s degree.
Deloitte gave some details of the four-week online course on offer.
“Undergraduate students will be given a mentor throughout the programme and the opportunity to work alongside Deloitte employees, develop their skills and learn more about a career at Deloitte,” a spokeswoman said.
Rival PwC told the BBC that 400 undergraduate students who were due to join its internship programme over the summer had been offered a guaranteed position on its graduate training programme, starting in autumn 2021.
“This means these students will enter their final year of university knowing that they have a guaranteed job at the end of their studies, in what could be a challenging environment for new graduates,” a spokeswoman said.