From education to employment

MPs and accountancy bodies: Apprenticeships policy must change

Almost half of all MPs (46%) think the Government’s three million apprenticeship starts target ignores the importance of both quality and completion rates and should be modified, according to a new study commissioned by AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
Following the publication (31 January) of the Institute of Fiscal Studies’ report claiming apprentice targets represent ‘poor value for money’, both AAT and ACCA have backed the Government’s commitment to three million apprenticeship starts by 2020, but only if supported by a focus on timely completions and overall quality.
The accountancy bodies also think that the Apprenticeship Levy, which comes into force this April, should  be renamed as the Skills Levy and for levy monies to be able to be spent on high quality traineeships and other forms of training other than apprenticeships. This will benefit individuals, employers and the economy as a whole.
A recent YouGov study commissioned by AAT and ACCA found that the study, conducted by YouGov with MPs from across the political divide, also showed that almost two thirds of MPs (65%) think that the Apprenticeship Levy should be developed to allow funding for skills other than apprenticeships.
John Williams, Head of ACCA UK, said;
“It is reassuring to see that there is strong political support for a focus on quality and skills. For accountancy, apprenticeships not only offer an important non-graduate route into the professions but also an opportunity for ambitious young people from all backgrounds to develop work-ready technical skills which will enable them to thrive in the evolving 21st century workplace.
“With Government unveiling a new Industrial Strategy, and business preparing itself for the impacts of advanced robotics, the availability of high-quality apprenticeships and traineeships will play an integral role in enabling the UK’s financial and professional services sector to continue to lead the world in the short and long term. It is therefore a top priority to ensure we continue to build support and awareness of the value of apprenticeships both in Parliament and across the education sector.”
Mark Farrar, Chief Executive, AAT said;
“It’s good to see so many MPs sharing our views, because although we have long supported the three million apprenticeship starts target, we have been concerned about completion rates and quality for just as long.
“Likewise, we strongly believe that the Apprenticeship Levy should be widened in scope to allow for investment in high quality traineeships and other forms of training. Again, many MPs agree with us and even the Secretary of State for Education recently expressed a willingness to consider such a development. However, until this happens we shall continue beating the drum, not just for the accountancy profession but for the sake of the wider economy.”
Other key findings from the survey include:
·    The majority of MPs think the big four accountancy firms (EY, PwC, Deloitte and KPMG) are moving away from graduate recruitment towards a greater focus on apprenticeships (55%)
·    Three quarters of MPs believe careers information advice and guidance in schools is too heavily geared towards a University education (75%)
·    The vast majority of MPs believe that the views of parents and teachers need to change if vocational/professional/technical education is to gain the same recognition as academic education (86%)
AAT recently announced it has been approved as an Apprentice Assessment Organisation (AAO) for the Accounting Trailblazer Apprenticeships, a Government initiative designed to give employers the opportunity to take the lead in developing apprenticeship standards to meet their needs.
As ACCA prepares to offer its own Level 4 Accountancy/Taxation Technician Apprenticeship to students aged 16+ in England, it has pledged to also support members in opening up more apprenticeship places.
      About AAT:
·    AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) is the UK’s leading qualification and professional body for vocational accountants and bookkeepers, with over 140,000 members around the world. We offer a range of qualifications that are open to all regardless of previous qualifications or age, such as the four AAT Accounting Qualifications that provide a non-degree route into chartered accountancy, and the five AAT Bookkeeping Qualifications that can support businesses with accurate and up-to-date financial records. Students encompass a wide range from school and college leavers undertaking apprenticeships, to older people hoping to change their career or learn the skills to run their own business.
·     An AAT Accountant is a qualified accounting professional with the practical and technical skills needed to support businesses with their accounting activities. Typical job roles of an AAT Accountant include: Financial Accountant, Commercial Analyst, Senior Finance Officer, Payroll Manager, VAT Accountant and Tax Supervisor. An AAT Accountant can sign off the accounts for companies up to the audit threshold, where a company does not have a turnover more than £6.5 million and its balance sheet total is not more than £3.26 million.  The majority of businesses within the UK do not meet this threshold so currently over half a million businesses trust AAT Accountants and AAT Bookkeepers to service their accounting requirements.
·    AAT awards around 90% of all vocational qualifications in accounting in the UK, and is sponsored by the professional accounting bodies CIPFA, ICAEW, CIMA, and ICAS.
About ACCA:
     ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. It offers business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
     ACCA supports its 188,000 members and 480,000 students in 178 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 100 offices and centres and more than 7,110 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
      Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. It believes that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. ACCA’s core values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and it ensures that through its range of qualifications, it prepares accountants for business. ACCA seeks to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating its qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.
      More information is here:

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