A LEYTON trainee accountant has won an all-expenses paid trip to Paris after being named East London’s Apprentice of the Year by social mobility charity, Leadership Through Sport & Business (LTSB).
Raheeq Ahmad, 20, was presented with the award by the Lord Mayor of London, Charles Bowman, and LTSB Chairman, David Pinchin, in a graduation ceremony held at Mansion House, London also attended by friends and relatives.
The delighted apprentice said: “I hope there is a bright future ahead because It’s a great honour to have won and I’ve been lucky enough to have met some brilliant people on the way.
“I didn’t grow up in an environment where there are many successful people around and so to win this was truly an amazing experience.”
Raheeq says his life was transformed when he was encouraged to join the apprenticeship scheme, Leadership Through Sport & Business (LTSB).
The pioneering programme, which helps young disadvantaged people secure top jobs in business and finance with blue chip companies, helped Raheeq land an apprenticeship after he decided against going to university.
Now having landed a top job at one of the UK’s leading accountancy firms, Grant Thornton, Raheeq wants to encourage other youngsters to follow suit as he feels schools should offer an alternative to university.
He said: “In my opinion,apprenticeships are the way forward because you get experience and knowledge at the same time.
“My parents wanted me to go to university but when they saw me working at West Ham and then Grant Thornton they understood what I was trying to achieve.
“The important thing was that I came out with a lot of work experience instead of university debts of around £27,000 and no guarantee of a job.”
The initiative – supported by the West Ham Foundation – provides an alternative to university by offering a clear career pathway for 16 – 21-year olds interested in a career in finance.
LTSB encourages the development of leadership skills by arranging for apprentices to lead coaching sessions at the West Ham Foundation, which was a personal highlight for Raheeq.
“During my pre-apprenticeship, I was working for West Ham Football club. I coached a lot of kids and that gave me the confidence to get out of my comfort zone.”
In light of the apprentice levy that reduced the amount of apprenticeship opportunities, the responsibility to create career pathways for school-leavers has fallen to initiatives like LTSB.
At the graduation ceremonytheLord Mayor of London acknowledged the ‘importance of empowering the next generation.’
The Lord Mayor, who himself worked for accountancy firm PwC for 30 years, believes accountancy is a “brilliant qualification” and pointed out that one-in-five FTSE 100 CEO’s have a qualification in accountancy.
LTSB Chairman, David Pinchin, praised Raheeq and the rest of the cohort for graduating a programme that transforms “sleepy school leavers to workers ready to hit the ground running.”
Pinchin launched LTSB in 2011 after a successful career in the city where he co-founded brokers Tradition Financial Services in 1985.
He said: “I am deeply moved and inspired by what we have achieved over the last six years and am looking forward to the next six with great excitement. Our outcomes and impact have been extremely positive and dramatic in many cases. We have over 60 employers but can never have too many.”
If you or someone you know is aged 16-21 and hungry for a career in business and finance with a major firm, but don’t have the social capital to find success on your own, then LTSB wants to meet you. For more info, email [email protected] or visit https://www.leadershipthroughsport.org/join-the-programme/ and apply now!