From education to employment

#WSUKLIVE The pursuit of excellence: World Class Accounting Apprenticeships

Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director, Kaplan Financial

Accounting is an industry where the UK genuinely leads the world.

One of the few where our standards are still being either adopted or copied by others.

And it is an industry that is built upon a clear ladder of qualification and accreditation.

Apprenticeships have an increasingly important role in supporting this.

For many years Accounting Apprenticeships at Intermediate (L2) and Advanced level (L3) have served as both an entry point into the industry and as a career ladder for professional progression.

In 2016 development started on Higher-level Apprenticeship standards and these higher standards have now been enthusiastically adopted by the industry.

So we now have a complete set of Accounting & Tax Apprenticeship standards available from ‘entry level’ to ‘fully qualified’.

The new Accounting Apprenticeship standards add real value to the traditional training model in several ways:

  • They provide a work-based progression route from L2 to L7, so that individuals can reach ‘fully qualified’ status without staying on in full time education and acquiring education-debt
  • They require trainees to develop their ‘people skills’ such as Communication as well as their Technical skills – leading to more well-rounded practitioners – focusing on the continuing value of human skills in the age of automation
  • In particular the skills and behaviours elements of the apprenticeship affords apprentices an added opportunity to learn more about ethics, integrity and professional scepticism – which are so important in this industry
  • They have involved employers and Professional bodies working together to harmonise approaches; creating more powerful industry training standards
  • Work-life balance. The 20% off-the-job training allowance means that training now happens in work time, opening the sector to a wider section of the population, such those with caring responsibilities for example
  • The variety of routes into the profession provided by apprenticeships allows employers access to a wider talent pool and encourages diversity and greater social mobility

Apprenticeships increase access and break glass ceilings and the employers of this sector should be congratulated for embracing their potential.

Accounting may have suffered from an over reliance on a narrow section of the population in the past, but it is now open to a wider range of people than ever before and through Apprenticeships provides a more supportive and inclusive training route.

The next target must be to push for excellence rather than exclusivity in the industry.

One way of doing this is to encourage the best to be even better…

WorldSkills 2019 Accounting competition

A proven way to inspire the best to be better is through the pursuit of excellence via competition.

So 2019 will see the launch of an ‘Accounting competition’, at WorldSkills Live

The search to find Britain’s best new Accountants might not have the immediate visual impact of other skills competitions but it will certainly be keenly contested. And it will serve as a vital showcase for the industry in front of a very diverse young audience.

Within Accounting there is already healthy competition between different specialisms such as Audit, Tax and Management Accounting as well as between employers, who invest heavily in their training programmes.

WorldSkills will provide a great way to showcase the effectiveness of training programmes, as well as recognising individual excellence. And by testing ‘soft skills’ such as team working as well as more technical skills, we can reinforce the importance of possessing all-round excellence in today’s workplace.

Kaplan have teamed up with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to create a skills competition that will debut at this year’s World skills live. The competition will be open to anyone who is training towards Accountancy qualifications, but we anticipate entrants to be Apprentices in the main.

Some of the country’s leading Accounting and Audit practices have already signed up and hopefully there will be some entrants from accounting teams outside of ‘practice’ that will help make it a really interesting event.

Dave Payne, Senior Marketing Manager, Student Recruitment,said:

“ICAEW knows that to have a strong accountancy profession that stands the test of time, we need to attract and develop talented and diverse young people, capable of adapting to the changing business environment. We were at the forefront of developing the new accounting standards, to deliver world-leading training and qualifications for UK apprentices. That’s why we’re delighted to be involved in this competition to find the top talent of the future.

“The competition will stretch teams, requiring them to take the technical knowledge they have learned during their apprenticeships and apply it in a true-to-life business situation. Teams that combine critical analysis of financial and non-financial factors, with outstanding soft skills such as communication and resilience, will be the ones that succeed.”

Apprenticeships provide a route for inclusion and excellence in Accountancy and a chance for us to show off the best of British.


Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director, Kaplan Financial

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