School leavers

While graduates are provided with a lot of guidance on the various training routes out there, along with when, where and how to apply, we understand that as a school leaver there is less guidance out there for you, with colleges typically gearing their students up for applying to various universities.

With this in mind the school leavers amongst the team have put together a list of their best tips;

Do I need to have taken accounts at college?

No, definitely not. Whilst having taken accounts may help to give you a kick start in your studies, it will not have any significant impact on your application. The key thing to consider when choosing your A Level subjects is what you are most passionate about, and therefore most likely to succeed in.

What qualifications can you study with Grant Thornton?

As an Audit Accelerate trainee you would typically study AAT followed by the ACA, ACCA or CIPFA, depending on both yours and your chosen office’s preference. Some offices offer Accelerate trainees to begin straight away on the ACCA.

Tax Accelerate trainees typically study ATT followed by CTA.

Whilst this is the usual course taken, it can vary between offices; don’t be afraid to ask.

Will I finish my training contract with the same qualifications as a Graduate?

Yes. The only difference is that your training contract will last slightly longer than a grad’s. Graduates and school leavers alike finish their training contract as fully qualified chartered accountants or chartered tax advisers. The only difference is that a school leaver will not have a degree, however if you choose to take the ACCA this is an option once you have qualified. Furthermore, as a school leaver, you will qualify one year earlier than your counterparts who go to uni.

What are the benefits of having the school leaver qualifications vs. degree qualifications?

If you are looking to work in the accountancy profession, being without a degree will not hold you back once you have your professional qualification. Indeed, you will end up with the same qualification as your fellow graduates and a year earlier (the school leaver route takes around five years, the graduate route takes around three years plus three years at university).

I’m worried that without a degree, I won’t have as many opportunities…

This is a common worry against school leavers, since you are making a huge decision at the age of 17/ 18. However, if you feel that you are interested in finance or even becoming an entrepreneur with your own business, the school leaver route will not hold you back, rather it will open many doors. The ACA/ ACCA/ CIPFA/ CTA qualifications are all very highly regarded and sought after. With these qualifications and a wealth of experience behind you, there will be many opportunities available to you once you’ve finished your training contract. Within Grant Thornton alone we offer many different service lines which you could become involved in, however the opportunities don’t end here. With your amazing qualification behind you, you could become a freelance accountant, work as a Financial Controller for a company, become a teacher, or you could indeed set up your own business in something that interests you.

Are you given as much responsibility as a school leaver?

Yes, although perhaps in smaller steps. Since the graduate course is quicker than the school leaver course, it is natural that they will progress a little faster, however graduates and school leavers are not treated any differently. That said, the support offered by the office and firm as a whole means that you will not find yourself feeling too overwhelmed by the big step into work.

I don’t have any accountancy work experience – does that matter?

No. School leavers and graduates alike are unlikely to have much relevant work experience when applying for the job. Don’t let this put you off. The key is to take any experience you do have – be that from working in a corner shop or as a waitress, to being a member of a sports team or school council. You will find that you demonstrate the strengths and motivations looked at by Grant Thornton throughout your day to day life, and it is just a case of applying these to Grant Thornton.

Will I miss out by not going to University?

This is a very personal question. In terms of qualifications, as mentioned above, once you have your professional qualification your lacking a degree will not hold you back.

In terms of your experience, it is true that it will be somewhat different to the experience of those who go to uni. It’s really down to you to consider whether the university experience is something you don’t want to miss out on. If you find that you are not that fussed about going to university or not, consider the benefits of going straight into work;

–          You will qualify at a younger age

–          You will not have racked up any student debt

–          You will have been earning a competitive salary from a young age

–          Your annual leave, plus the opportunity to buy holiday as well as earning TOIL (time off in lieu) will mean you have ample time to visit your friends at university

The key thing is to weigh up the pros and cons and consider which factors are most important to you.

What sort of people will I work with?

At Grant Thornton, we don’t employ one particular person, so you will find that the people you work with come from lots of different backgrounds. The junior members of a team will generally range in age from about 17 to 35. We have lots of school leaver opportunities so you can rest assured that you will be working alongside your peers.

Tips for applying?

See the other parts of our ‘Tips’ section. The same thing applies to both school leavers and graduates – the application process is no different. Don’t let the fact that you will be interviewed alongside graduates put you off. Clearly there will be a difference in the experience and knowledge of a graduate and a school leaver, and our recruiters, managers and partners understand this and will make their decisions accordingly.

What will the role entail?

Each role is different – we advise you take a read of our blogs as well as our location Blog specials so that you can get a better idea of the office to which you are applying.

Hopefully you’ve found the tips useful, feel free to tweet, or message us on Facebook or Instagram.