Apprenticeships are a valuable but untapped route to employment, says ACCA Scotland

AHEAD of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2022 (7 – 11 March), ACCA Scotland (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) says employers need to consider more seriously the benefits of the Graduate Apprenticeship Scheme as a way of developing their workforce.

The scheme, only launched five years ago, combines work experience with academic study, enabling employees to develop their practical, theory and technical skills. Crucially, while apprenticeships are often associated with hiring new talent to an organisation, graduate apprenticeships are open to existing employees, offering them a route to upskill and develop their career.

Susan Love, strategic engagement lead for ACCA Scotland says: ‘While only one piece of the puzzle, innovation in the apprenticeship landscape is an important step in addressing Scotland’s skills challenge. The Graduate Apprenticeship scheme is a flexible and accessible way to secure future professional talent, enabling students to work towards their degree and qualification whilst building up valuable in-work experience.

‘These benefits are why we were pleased to support the introduction of the Accountancy Graduate Apprenticeship in 2019, working alongside Robert Gordon and Glasgow Caledonian Universities. Open to any employer and full-time employee, the scheme helps develop the financial and digital flair, ethical integrity and ambitious mindset of the accountants of tomorrow.

‘Despite these upsides however, we know that the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme is still in its infancy and more work is needed to highlight this accessible, flexible pathway into careers for both employers as well as the current – and future – workforce.’

Feedback from both employer and employees highlights the benefits of the Graduate Apprenticeship Scheme:

David Nicholls, partner at BN Associates in Glasgow adds: ‘As an employer, the chance to train a member of staff through a full accountancy qualification while they gain valuable work experience was a no brainer. We benefit from their learning and development, at no additional cost, and they clearly benefit too. I would encourage any employer across any sector to do this and embrace the opportunities for involving other staff and managers in the tasks and projects the Graduate Apprentice will do – everyone can benefit.’

Emily Khan, an apprentice working for charity Wellbeing Scotland based in Alloa says: ‘I had to leave my final year of school early due to Covid and this led me to examine other career paths. I’d originally intended to go to university to study law. However, with the ever-changing world we live in, I was concerned that I’d leave university with all the other graduates and no real world experience. As soon as I discovered graduate apprenticeships existed it made total sense to begin my search for one. I get the university education I wanted but with the job experience along with it. Plus, no student debt at the end of it which was a big bonus to me.’

The professional body for accountants is also asking employers, parents, schools, colleges and other training providers across Scotland to show their support of apprenticeships by making a pledge through a campaign called ACCApprenticeships: Pledge for Potential. This aims to show how valuable apprenticeships can be for employment in accountancy and finance, ultimately benefitting the Scottish economy. Any employers keen to learn more about ACCA apprenticeships in Scotland can find information via Apprenticeships in Scotland | ACCA Global

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