How an accountancy apprenticeship can work for you and your employer.?
We caught up with Cameron York, Accounts Assistant/Audit Junior at Warwickshire based firm MCA business Ltd, and his manager James Pickering. Cameron is currently undertaking his AAT Level 3 Diploma […]
We caught up with Cameron York, Accounts Assistant/Audit Junior at Warwickshire based firm MCA business Ltd, and his manager James Pickering. Cameron is currently undertaking his AAT Level 3 Diploma in Accounting at Reed Business School.
When finishing school, Cameron initially considered going to university to study for an architecture degree, but following some further research, he decided that pathway wasn’t for him. After undertaking some informal work experience with his accountant mother, which he enjoyed, he started looking into accountancy apprenticeship opportunities so he could learn and earn at the same time. And that’s when he came across MCA.
Having applied for and secured his apprenticeship position, Cameron began his Level 2 AAT qualification at Warwick College, but switched to Reed Business School for his Level 3.
“I didn’t want to have to wait until the next year to start my Level 3 in Warwick. And as my manager (James) and various other colleagues trained at Reed Business School, it made sense to go there instead. The environment and small class sizes suit me, and you get really good attention from the teachers, who are also very knowledgeable and helpful. I’ll definitely look to continue my studies there.”
Reed Business School uses a blended learning approach for the majority of courses, with our Mindful Education platform at its heart. It hosts all relevant resources, and allows for interaction between staff and students. Cameron is a big fan so far:
“I like that it’s clear and visual with a lot of diagrams, not just big chunks of words. I’m a visual learner so that works great for me. There are lots of different resources – each week there’s the basics you have to learn, then essential practice, a mini exam about that section, plus optional practice. You can also watch recordings from lectures and bite-size videos to learn and review at your own pace.”
Cameron believes studying alongside his work has really aided his professional development and the type of work he gets to do, and he’s very pleased with his progress so far:
“When I first started, I wouldn’t really communicate with clients at all, but now I have my own group, and recently I have been taking part in audit stock takes on the clients’ premises too. Soon I’ll be able to go out on meetings alone with them.”
Cameron also really likes how what he studies in the classroom aids his understanding of his work:
“My accounts work has improved massively, and the two go hand in hand. The course makes much more sense when you have exposure to it at work and can practice what you learn.”
As an employer, MCA believes in supporting the development of its apprentices based on their individual needs and interests. James says:
“I make sure I catch up with them all regularly, and together we map out individual pathways based on their progress, preferences and strengths. We work alongside Reed Business School’s apprenticeship work coach to ensure they develop relevant business skills and behaviours in addition to their technical knowledge. The more confident they get, the more confidence I have in them to take on more senior work.”
Compared with a university education, after three years of an apprenticeship you’ll not only have that bank of solid work experience behind you, but also be well on your way to becoming a qualified accountant.
MCA made the decision a few years ago to exclusively hire its trainees via apprenticeships, as the calibre of candidates was comparable to graduates, while their starting salaries were lower – making sounder business sense to them. James says:
“Our approach aims to help the firm grow with new talent, as we can train apprentices in the way we like to do things. Within accountancy work, there are different levels of difficulty, so apprentices can do lower level jobs, and as they progress they can take on more complex tasks.”
Could an apprenticeship be for you?
James tells us what he and (and MCA) look for in the new apprentice accountants they recruit:
“Firstly, they have to have a bit of personality and be easy to talk to. A big part of accountancy is the client interaction, so one of the main things I look for is whether I’d trust that person to represent us well with our clients.
“We also look for people who know a bit about accountancy, what they want to do and why they want to do it. It’s quite a demanding journey so you need to be coming into it with your eyes open about what to expect from your training.”
Apprentices are still a relatively new way into accountancy, and James notes that it’s absolutely time to be taking them seriously, while warning that they are hard work:
“When you start your apprenticeship, you might have to do some boring tasks and not understand much of what’s going on. But you need to look at the end goal, keep working through everything as guided, and you’ll end up with a very good career. Trust the process, put in the work, and who knows what you can achieve.”
Cameron agrees, admitting that at the start of his apprenticeship he felt a little out of place:
“It was like I jumped in at the deep end before I really knew how to swim. But you get a lot of support, and if you keep studying and put in the work everything will fall into place. Now I’m really enjoying it.”
and finally a word from our AAT Programme Manager
“MCA are very supportive of their apprentices at levels, and this blended programme suits their needs well. Providing them with the flexibility of learning around their day-to-day work activities. The apprenticeship supports the development of not only their accounting knowledge but also wider skills required by apprentices.” Collette Steadman, AAT Programme Manager at RBS
Would you like to find out more?
Contact us now to start your AAT qualification.