Apprenticeships not only provide individuals with valuable skills and experience they need for a successful career - they provide businesses with brilliant people.
Armstrong Watson is celebrating its rising stars this week as England marks National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) 2021 from 7th – 13th February.
The accountants, business and financial advisory firm provides trainees with a fully-funded Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) apprenticeship programme, combining study with on the job learning within its accounting teams. Students then have the opportunity to progress on to the ACA Graduate Scheme to become a chartered accountant.
However, in addition to the traditional accountancy trainee programme, the firm also offers ATT (Association of Tax Technicians), business administration and, newly launched in 2021, payroll apprenticeships too.
Ella Southwell, 21, started her AAT apprenticeship in 2019 after achieving her A levels at Nelson Thomlinson School in Wigton.
“The university route didn’t appeal to me, as I’m a more practical learner and thought I’d be better suited to a work environment where I could learn on the job. I looked at a number of local apprenticeship schemes but felt that AW offered the training and support that would help me develop a career,” she said.
“I’m really happy with how my apprenticeship is going. Starting with a group of nine other students made the transition from school to work much easier and has made the learning experience more enjoyable."
“During my time at AW, I’ve had the opportunity to undertake a secondment, assist in the development of new projects and act as a mentor for new apprentices. This has all developed my confidence and helped me grow professionally.”
For the last two years Armstrong Watson has taken on cohorts of trainees under the apprenticeship umbrella. There are currently 22 new starters who are being funded through the apprenticeship levy, including 11 AAT apprentices who started in July and August last year, with another 16 AAT/ATT apprenticeships and 4 payroll apprenticeships currently being recruited for this year’s intake.
Alongside the apprenticeship scheme, the firm also takes on graduates for their ACA programme. Last year, 14 chartered accountancy trainees were recruited, up from 11 in 2020, to work towards their ACA, a three-year qualification involving college study and working within the Audit and Assurance team.
This year’s NAW theme is ‘Build the Future’ and Armstrong Watson sees its apprentices as the future. The company has taken on trainees for as long as it has been in existence, with some existing Partners starting out as students.
Paul Dickson, CEO and managing partner, said: “It’s essential we invest in the next generation of accountants and advisers. We have a long history of growing our own talent and those who join us will not only have the opportunity to become future business leaders, but as a top independent UK firm, they will work at the cutting edge of legislative and technical changes in accounting."
“We strongly believe our people are our business and we invest in ambitious individuals who are keen to launch their careers and take advantage of the development we offer. With 17 offices across the North of England and Scotland and 15 different service lines, there’s a huge range of scope for career direction and development available to those who choose to join us on this exciting journey.”
AAT Apprentices are guided by Karen Blaylock, Accounting Training Manager, who provides motivation, emotional support and role modelling. “I am here to help with exploring careers, identifying goals and developing individuals by sharing my own experiences and the values of Armstrong Watson,” she said.
Read more about apprenticeships with our "Apprenticeships and Busting the Myths" article.