Dev Soni, an apprentice accountant at SJD Accountancy, started his apprenticeship during the pandemic and hasn’t looked back since starting his career in the industry.
Having worked at his family jewellers since leaving school, Dev Soni, 24, experienced the economic impact of the pandemic extremely quickly. With lockdown bringing many retail businesses to a halt, he decided it was time to explore other career opportunities and quickly found himself considering an apprenticeship.
“The pandemic was a real eye-opener for me, and as someone who has worked full-time since leaving school, I wanted to continue working while still learning and developing new skills. That’s why I felt apprenticeship opportunities were an ideal consideration.
“I was also attracted to the apprentice route because it gave me the chance to earn money while working towards the same calibre of job roles some of my friends has acquired after attending university. For me, an apprenticeship was a step towards a great job without the burden of student debt hanging over my head, so it was a win-win.”
Dev soon landed his ideal role, joining SJD Accountancy as an apprentice accountant, where he works on all aspects of day-to-day accounting, as well as professional qualifications.
“I’ve been working on tasks such as VAT returns and end of year self-assessments for our clients, which are really important for any accountant, and I’m becoming qualified with the AAT, the professional body for accounting technicians.
“I’m currently at level three, working towards my level four, and a great benefit of this training is that there’s no exams on certain modules, which is allowing me to progress quickly and continue with my day-to-day work. The apprentices at SJD Accountancy also receive fantastic support from senior staff, and there’s really no problem too big or too small when it comes to sharing their knowledge and advice.”
With remote working being the new normal for lots of businesses, including SJD Accountancy, Dev has worked from home since starting his apprenticeship – but says he’s settled in well despite only ever meeting his colleagues virtually.
“The one concern I had was not being able to go to the office and meet my colleagues in person, so I had to get used to only speaking to them via platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Luckily, the team are all experienced in helping train apprentices like me, and the process has been really smooth.”
Coming from a family where many relatives have also become accountants, Dev is now eyeing up a career as fully qualified accountant following the completion of his apprenticeship.
“My apprenticeship is going very well and I definitely want to be in this industry for the long-run. Being an accountant is a career you can have for life and it can take you into lots of varied roles within businesses.
“I’m planning to work all the way towards becoming a chartered certified accountant, and as I work with so many people who have gone down this route before, I’m in a great place to achieve that goal.”
SJD Accountancy is part of Optionis Group, which was last year recognised as one of the UK’s top 10 apprenticeship employers by the UK Government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency. Over the past three years, it has supported 550 employees to gain apprenticeships, providing job opportunities and development in a range of roles including accounting, payroll, and tax.
Karen Pay, Chief People Officer at Optionis, added:
“Dev is one of the many apprentices we’re committed to supporting, be that in normal times or the current pandemic.
“From March 2020, we’ve managed our apprenticeship scheme entirely virtually, but have been able to continue providing high quality-training for each apprentice within the group. This was a key focus for us as we adapted to the impact of coronavirus because apprenticeships are a huge part of our culture.
“We currently offer more than 17 different programmes in association with our training provider, Paragon Skills. Our managers are also encouraged to identify areas where apprenticeships can benefit current staff and to explore where apprentices could be recruited into new roles.
“Our pass rates are way above the national average of 62 per cent, which goes to show the success of our programme so far, and I’m pleased to see Dev and our other apprentices are on track to uphold our fantastic record for training and development.”