At Armstrong Watson, we are strong advocates of the apprenticeship scheme as we believe not only does this provide individuals with the valuable skills and experience they need for a successful career - it provides businesses with brilliant people.
The annual celebration of apprentices, National Apprenticeship Wee, runs from 6th -12th February. It’s an opportunity to applaud our apprentices for their achievements and the valuable role they play in supporting the wider business.
Apprenticeships historically were the domain of skilled occupations, now though, they are available in nearly all professions. Despite the myths, apprenticeships are open to people of all ages, provide strong job prospects and certainly aren’t about making tea and photocopying.
Our apprentices, who are studying towards their Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Association of Tax Technicians (ATT) qualifications, combine study with hands-on experience working within our accounting teams. They are involved in valuable client work and benefit from a structured and well-supported study pathway, with the opportunity to progress to become a chartered accountant.
Not only do apprenticeships offer people of all ages and backgrounds the chance to gain the experience and skills needed to hit the ground running, for a business they help deliver the skilled workforce it needs to grow and thrive.
Hays Salary and Recruiting Trends survey, which surveyed more than 13,000 employers and professionals across the UK, shows the competition for talent and skills remains tough – with 90% of accountancy and finance respondents saying they experienced skills shortages in the last 12 months. One of the ways to help alleviate this skills gap is to look at “growing more of your own” in the form of increased trainee numbers with the view of developing talent long-term as opposed to just buying it in constantly.
A lot of our colleagues have joined us straight from school and indeed some of our existing partners started out as students. Without the apprenticeship scheme, we would currently be without 96 colleagues - 47 working towards their AAT or ATT and a further 49 who’ve gone on to complete their level 7 chartered qualifications – who all make a considerable difference to our business.
I would encourage businesses to look outside of the traditional methods of recruitment and certainly start by considering taking on more apprentices. Or if you, your children or your grandchildren are looking towards the first steps of a career or a totally new direction from an existing one, please consider the many benefits of hands-on learning, whilst earning, both financially and through experience within the working environment.