Article by Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partner Director from Kaplan, an Apprenticeship Training Provider. Historical support for the article comes from Krista Cowman, Professor of History & Director of Research at University of Lincoln.
The Apprenticeship Levy has arrived, and its build up has been dominating business news and encouraging organisations to once again consider Apprenticeship schemes and their current offering.
Accountancy as a profession requires on-going learning and first-hand experience, making Apprenticeships a very fitting option for those entering the industry or looking to develop. Apprenticeships are fundamentally about combining working, learning, and earning, making them an attractive combination for young people, graduates and career changers. Accountancy apprentices gain sufficient knowledge, skills and behaviour, equipping them to become experts and assets to any business or organisation.
The Levy will apply to both public and private employers across all sectors with a payroll bill in excess of £3m a year, and set at a rate of 0.5% of the total payroll. Each employer will then receive £15,000 per company to offset their Levy payment. While the Levy itself impacts larger businesses specifically, the changes have repercussions for the whole of the business community, including small businesses as they will now have to pay a flat rate cost. These changes will all come with the support and guidance of training providers and government.
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With Apprenticeships ensuring that individuals gain the necessary skills, qualifications and experience needed to start a career in their chosen industry, the benefits for businesses are clear.The National Apprenticeship Service has found that 89% of employers say apprentices make their business more productive, and 75% find that Apprenticeships help to lower recruitment costs. 80% say that Apprenticeships will play a bigger part in their future recruitment plans.
Alongside the Apprenticeship Levy launching, new Apprenticeship standards are being introduced, ensuring that key skills, work experience and necessary qualifications are gained, increasing the quality and relevance of Apprenticeships and training. Within accountancy, many courses are being refreshed and new qualifications are becoming available from professional bodies such as CIMA and ACCA.
Kaplan apprentice,Sally Fisher, gives her experience of an Accountancy Apprenticeship at Whittingham Riddell Chartered Accountants,and discusses the benefits of encouraging apprentices in the workplace:
- Can you give some background on your decision to become an apprentice? Was there a pivotal moment?
Throughout my school life I had a strong passion for Maths. I always believed I wanted to attend university to read Mathematics, however the stress of final year A-Levels made me question whether university was really for me. Sizable debt and the uncertainty of not obtaining a job at the end of a degree was a very daunting thought. I received an e-mail from Kaplan advertising Apprenticeships and secured a role with a local reputable firm of accountants, Whittingham Riddell LLP.
- What makes a finance-related Apprenticeship interesting?
The variation of the work completed daily is what keeps the job interesting. No two tasks are the same and all vary in difficulty. I’m very lucky – my role is active and I get a lot of client contact.
- Could anyone tackle an accountancy Apprenticeship, or are specific traits necessary?
You must be determined and have a good eye for numbers. Confidence is a good trait to have although this can be built up through an Apprenticeship as we receive a lot of feedback. I also believe that generally you need to be a good time keeper, enthusiastic and keen to learn.
- How is an Apprenticeship different from other educational routes, such as university? What advantages/benefits does an Apprenticeship offer?
The idea of having no debt, gaining experience and also people skills is a huge advantage to an Apprenticeship. I am a very practical learner and so I learn the most when I can relate what I am studying to real life situations. It is very rewarding when you are able to apply what you have learned to your job role. In the accountancy profession, those who begin their career through an Apprenticeship achieve just as much as those who began their career through university.
- In what ways does an Apprenticeship prepare you for your future career?
You learn skills that cannot be taught in the classroom. You learn how to deal with difficult situations and how to handle them in the future. In a nutshell, you learn the ‘tricks of the trade’ so to speak.
- What’s been your biggest career achievement so far?
Gaining a scholarship started my career off on a high. There have been so many small achievements that have boosted my confidence and enhanced the enjoyment I have had out of my Apprenticeship. Looking back, passing my exams, becoming a Xero Certified Advisor and gaining a promotion are my top three achievements.
- Have you faced any obstacles during your Apprenticeship? If so, how did you overcome them?
Everyone faces day to day challenges. Some are minute and can be easily overcome, some are tricky and take thought and consideration to clear. Deadlines are a key part of any finance role and it does take some time to adapt to time constraints. Luckily, I am part of a close knit team. We tackle obstacles together.
- What are your goals? Where do you want to be in 10 years? In 20 years?
To become a Chartered Accountant is my main goal, however I would like to build up a strong successful reputation alongside this. In 10 years’ time, I hope to be part of a management team, as a Chartered Accountant. 20 years is a long time away! I haven’t really thought about where I would like to be in 20 years – maybe a tutor? All of the tutors that have taught me throughout my Apprenticeship have a wealth of experience behind them.
- If you could give one piece of advice to a young person thinking about a finance Apprenticeship, what would it be?
The first six months are the hardest as you are still finding your feet. It is a completely new environment and you often forget about how much change has occurred in such a short period of time. Keep smiling and always do your best – this advice hasn’t failed for me as of yet!
Kaplan is one of the largest and oldest Apprenticeship providers to the Financial and Accountancy sectors, and over the last four years Kaplan has placed over 1,200 young people into an Apprenticeship and worked with hundreds employers of all sizes.
For more information about Kaplan Apprenticeships visit: https://kaplan.co.uk/apprenticeships-and-internships/apprenticeships