The recent release of this year’s A Level results caught my attention when I heard that a record 401,000 applicants had been accepted for undergraduate courses within 24 hours of receiving their results, that’s 9% higher than last year.
When fees were trebled to £9,000 in 2012 many expected that more students would opt instead for higher level apprenticeships, which provide workplace experience and a professional qualification. I was surprised then to discover that recent findings by the AAT showed that 81% of parents are unaware that a higher apprenticeship is an university-level qualification.
With this is in mind, and knowing that many students will be starting to think about what is the right path for them, I thought it would be useful to dispel these common misconceptions by looking at what we offer here at Grant Thornton.
The Accelerate programme offers the opportunity to train to become a respected business adviser whilst studying for the AAT or ATT depending on whether you join the audit or tax department. Studying for the AAT, as I have, takes two years here at Grant Thornton and we are trained by a well-respected training body, Kaplan. Having started at Grant Thornton in September 2011 I have just completed the AAT qualification and now feel proud to have the letters ‘MAAT’ after my name a whole year before my friends finish their university courses. I now look ahead to completing the ACCA in order to become a chartered accountant, while reaping the benefits of being eligible for exemptions from the entire ‘Knowledge’ stage – that’s three exams!
Another benefit that school leaver trainees get to enjoy is the amount of time we have to really get settled in and well established in our role, before having to make any decisions about what out next step up the career ladder will entail. This is because as a school leaver you will train for around five years, compared to just three as a graduate. You will qualify as a chartered accountant a year before your peers who chose to go to university. And instead of being many thousands of pounds in debt, you will have earned tens of thousands of pounds in your five year training contract.
The fact that a school leaver training contract is longer than that of a graduate does not mean to say that as a school leaver you do not grow as quickly as the graduate trainees; school leaver trainees are given equal opportunities to graduates to take what’s called the ‘in-charge’ role on an audit team. Other opportunities that school leavers and graduates alike can take advantage of at Grant Thornton is getting involved in other parts of the firm, be that in business development where you might help to organise events or research potential clients. You might take an interest in ‘championing’ one of the various software’s that we use (this usually involves taking a trip to Bradenham for one of our infamous training courses – any excuse!); or indeed if you are like me, you might decide to get involved with something like Spilling the Beans.
You might get the sense from reading this blog, or my Accelerate diary that I am rather passionate about taking the school leaver route into accountancy… Well, you wouldn’t be wrong. The opportunities available to school leavers here at Grant Thornton are second to none, and I would advise anyone who is feeling a bit unsure about going to university, but who is facing raised eyebrows from parents or teachers regarding taking the less obvious choice of path or a higher apprenticeship to take a step back to think what you could really gain from choosing to accelerate to success with our Accelerate programme.