Feb 2023

Access Accountancy shines the spotlight on apprenticeship programmes

During National Apprenticeship Week (6–12 February 2023), we sat down with several apprentices with a variety of backgrounds from Access Accountancy member firms to discuss their career paths, why they chose an apprenticeship, the benefits of work-based learning, and their future ambitions. Many joined work experience programmes, affiliated with Access Accountancy, and learned about alternative routes into their chosen professions.

The apprentices interviewed were Rachel Jackson, tax assistant at BDO; Shannon Rai, tax analyst at Deloitte; Emily Rowley, audit apprentice, and Sean Dyson, securitisation analyst, both at KPMG; Amaan Baig, assurance PQ at EY; Taher Kamari, senior associate at PwC; and Katie Rawlins-Waumsley, audit semi-senior at MHA.

Why did you choose the apprenticeship route?

Many of the apprentices highlighted that attending their firms’ respective work experience programmes was useful in helping them decide. Shannon Rai from Deloitte said that she wouldn’t have considered even applying to Deloitte if she had not been given the opportunity of attending ASPIRE, the firm’s social mobility work experience programme, opening her pathway into accountancy. Emily Rowley from KPMG agreed, saying that doing the Discovery programme allowed her to understand more about what the firm does and the pathways it offered, reassuring her that she didn’t have to go to university to qualify.  

Other common themes included the ability to move on from a purely academic environment sooner and gain greater independence by earning a salary at a younger age.

Katie Rawlins-Waumsley from MHA was advised by her college accountancy teacher that an apprenticeship was a much faster path into the profession than the traditional university route and meant that she would be able to start earning much sooner. Rachel Jackson from BDO agreed, adding that she didn’t particularly want to go to university, preferring the idea of gaining experience in the working world while studying for a qualification. Emily came to a similar decision, having always dreamed of a career in accountancy, and concluding that not only did an apprenticeship offer the best balance between study, life, and work, but it would also mean progressing in her career faster and qualifying while gaining relevant real-world experience.

What do you enjoy most about the apprenticeship?

“Being part of a huge business means you can meet people from all walks of life and backgrounds, and also connect on a personal level”, said Amaan Baig from EY, adding that there is something to learn from everyone which means you are constantly being inspired by those around you.

Katie said she enjoyed the social aspect of going through the exams and progression with peers of a similar age. These experiences were echoed by Emily, who said that working with different people and clients had helped develop her soft skills while having a peer group who went through the same process in terms of exams and study commitments provided a good support network. Sean Dyson, also an apprentice at KPMG, added that he enjoyed being able to be financially independent at a relatively young age and to steer his career in the direction of his choice.

Taher Kamari from PwC added; “It’s engaging and challenging but getting to apply theoretical knowledge directly in the workplace was the most favourable part of the experience for me.”

What are your future ambitions?

In the short to medium term, the apprentices spoke about their ambitions to complete their final exams and qualify in their respective fields. Emily spoke of her hope to progress within the firm with the goal of one day making it to partner or director.

Similarly, Rachel discussed her desire to specialise in certain areas as she gained more experience and progressed to a more senior position within the firm. Sean also expressed his aim to progress and enable future generations of colleagues by sharing the knowledge and experiences he has gained while completing his apprenticeship.

Find out about the current Access Accountancy work experience opportunities