Armstrong Watson is celebrating the “considerable difference” its apprentices make to the business during National Apprenticeship Week 2024.
With more than 100 apprentices currently working towards a handful of different qualifications, the top 30 accountancy firm recognises the importance of investing in the next generation of accountants and advisers and the valuable role they play in supporting the wider business.
Armstrong Watson, which has been named for two years in a row among the UK’s top 100 apprenticeship employers, has a long history of growing its own talent and has taken on trainees for as long as it has been in existence. Many colleagues joined straight from school and some existing partners started as students.
The majority of apprenticeships Armstrong Watson provides are the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Level 4 qualification, which combines 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, a Level 7 qualification which is equivalent to a master’s degree.
In addition to the traditional accountancy trainee programme, the firm also offers ATT (Association of Tax Technicians), business administration and payroll apprenticeships too.
Harley Ben, 19, is now in the second year of his AAT qualification.
“Once I decided that accountancy was the career I wanted to pursue, I spent hours contemplating whether to progress my skills via university or an apprenticeship,” he said.
“After discussing with older friends who had already completed their degree, they explained the financial constraints of university, and how once they achieved their degree finding an employer also proved extremely difficult due to lack of experience in their relevant industries. It was this that led me down the apprenticeship pathway.
“This is a decision I’m extremely relieved to have chosen as the opportunity to earn money and gain valuable experience alongside completing my AAT qualification is a fantastic opportunity.”
Robbie Allison, 22, from Brampton near Carlisle, started his AAT apprenticeship in 2020 after achieving his A levels. He started his ACA qualification in September and has moved into the audit service line.
“The university route didn’t appeal to me. I liked the idea of learning while working and being able to apply my knowledge in a business environment,” he said.
“I have really enjoyed my apprenticeship right from the first day as everyone has always been very helpful and the firm is one big team, where everyone is always willing to help no matter the issue.”
Jane Kiernan, Head of Learning and Development, said: “We are committed to providing development and support programmes alongside high-quality tuition so that our trainees become the best they can be, and we are extremely proud to see them qualify and go on to be instrumental in the success of our business.”
Paul Dickson, Managing Partner and CEO, said: “Without the apprenticeship scheme, we would currently be without 112 colleagues - among those are 43 working towards their AAT or ATT and 55 who are working towards their Level 7 chartered qualifications – who all make a considerable difference to our business and we applaud them for all their efforts.
“We are strong advocates of apprenticeship schemes as we believe not only do they provide individuals with the valuable skills and experience they need for a successful career - they provide businesses with brilliant people.
"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.“