With thousands of students heading to start their university courses this week, and many others returning for the first time since spring, approximately 15,000 other school leavers are remaining at home having chosen to defer their university entry until 2021. 

And, with ongoing travel restrictions likely to hamper plans for these gap-year students to plan a trip abroad, AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) is reporting a rise in ‘apprenticeship gap years’ – with people who left school in the summer enquiring about taking an apprenticeship in accountancy during their year out. 

Indeed, AAT has received a number of queries from parents of school leavers exploring different options for their children, including studying for the qualification directly or through an apprenticeship. 

Apprenticeships attract government support 

With fears that youth unemployment (18-24 year olds) could rise by approximately 600,000 this year, there has been unequivocal government support for employers to take on apprentices, with £2,000 being offered to businesses for each apprentice under the age of 25 who is hired. This is designed to encourage employers to boost their apprenticeship intake – which may give a further advantage for those planning to take a vocational qualification. 

In addition, many vocational courses, including AAT accounting and bookkeeping qualifications, can be accessed online. With some colleges and training providers still closed, there was a 26% rise in August 2020 of new students studying remotely, compared to July. 

Rachel Staples, Head of Qualifications at AAT, said: 

“Given the challenges with this year’s A-level results and uncertainty over how universities will operate given social distancing measures, it’s of no surprise that deferrals have hit an all-time high. What is less certain, however, is how would-be students intend to spend their next year. 

“Gaining a vocational qualification could be the answer. For those who do go on to start university in 2021, they will have the bonus upon graduation of both a degree and a technical qualification, which will undoubtedly make them more attractive to employers. For others, the qualification – especially if taken in the form of an apprenticeship – can lead them directly into employment, without the need to go to university at all.” 

Case study: I never went to university – and now manage my company’s finances 

farha jamadarFarha Jamadar, 31 from Greenford, North London, didn't get the opportunity to take A-levels. She instead left school a year earlier, after failing her AS exams. 

"I had done well at school up until that point, so imagined I would do A-levels and go on to university," Farha says. "I suddenly had to re-evaluate everything. I had no real idea what I wanted to do, but had always been interested in business, so found myself a business administration apprenticeship with American Airlines." 

"I loved it, and soon realised I was fascinated by the finance side of things." 

Farha looked for a permanent role locally, and found a job at Northolt-based timber suppliers Todd Doors. She was soon thrown in at the deep end after her manager left, but was supported through her accounting qualifications with AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) over a three year period. 

"I loved that I was studying something which had a direct and immediate impact on my job," Farha adds.  

"I would study something one evening and be able to put it into good use the next day." 

As Farha progressed through her studies, she was also promoted at work, up to her current position of financial accounts manager.   

"I manage my team, keep an eye on all the numbers, and make sure everything is spot on from stock control in our stores to our budgets," Farha says.

"To people not getting the results they think they need this month - try other things, think differently and you never know where it will take you." 

Case study: From local apprentice to global chief operating officer 

karl eastwoodKarl Eastwood went straight from sixth form college into an accounting apprenticeship role in Bradford studying AAT qualifications, back in 2006. 

“I decided that the traditional university route did not suit my learning style and I knew that I enjoyed working, so the study and work route with AAT best suited me,” he explains. 

“At my school’s graduation ceremony, I was classified as ‘unemployed’ as I don’t think they felt a need to acknowledge anybody not following university studies. This was a little frustrating and demoralising.” 

14 years on, Karl has achieved chartered accountant status with ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), and is now based in Chicago working as global chief operating officer for leading language services company Global Lingo, with other offices in the UK, Romania, Singapore, Australia and Guatemala. 

“The job has allowed me to go to lots of different places, all of which would not have been made possible without my AAT qualifications,” Karl adds. 

“My AAT studies were pivotal in getting me here, along with my ’non-typical accounting’ personality.” 

And Karl doesn’t think that the economic downturn should put anyone off gaining a finance qualification that can set them up for life. 

“The skills that you develop through studies and work experience provide more than just accounting knowledge,” Karl adds.  

“You learn skills that can be applied within any industry and across many roles within an organisation. For example, the problem-solving approach to accounting can be transferred to operations and technology roles which ensures you can maximise the value you add within any organisation.” 

With the Covid-19 pandemic putting a strain on the jobs market, there has never been a better time to gain skills qualifications to be fit for employment. Accountancy is open to all, regardless of age, school qualifications or background, and AAT welcomes anyone thinking about starting a career in accountancy or bookkeeping.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 1 hour 37 minutes ago

Latest #FENews updates for today 10/20/2020 - https://t.co/iUxhBd9yjP
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page