Young Academic is completely committed to bringing the nation’s students all they need to know in order to embark on the perfect career path. Whether this be through their University degree, work experience or apprenticeship. As such we have this personal account of a typical apprenticeship from Alison Ryder, a 25 year old Audit Supervisor at Baker Tilly who became a fully qualified accountant in summer 2012.
Earlier this year, the quality of career advice provided to young people was brought into the spotlight. Many schools have reduced the service while others continue to hand over incorrect and incomplete information that heavily favours a university education over on-the-job learning and apprenticeships.
This was certainly the case for me when I was at school. Although I scored straight A*s in my GCSEs, I chose A Level subjects that made me happy – art, photography, politics and philosophy.
Even though I enjoyed these subjects, it soon became apparent that they didn’t lend themselves very easily to getting a job in the real world unless I wanted to become a politician or artist – and let’s face it, how many jobs are there in those fields?
It was for this reason that I decided enough was enough and after A Levels, I would get a proper job. Armed with this new sense of purpose I booked an appointment with the school careers advisor to discuss apprenticeships but to my frustration she only wanted to convince me to go to university.
My school had a ‘name and shame’ list (well, that’s the name I decided to give it) of people who hadn’t completed their UCAS application and given I had no intention of applying to university – I was regularly a part of this list. At no point did I ever feel encouraged to explore other options that may have suited my preferred style of learning or the type of work I wished to pursue.
It was only by chance that I stumbled upon an apprenticeship with a local accountancy firm in Bury St Edmunds and I’ll be forever glad that I did. My employer funded and supported my training through three levels of the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) Accounting Qualification and I’m now a certified accountant at age 25.
I have a qualification, work experience, am completely debt free and have a great job as an audit supervisor at Baker Tilly – one of the top 10 accountancy firms. I get to visit interesting and well-known companies all across the country and find out about their businesses. I also supervise new trainees and take them out to clients with me which is very rewarding. Looking back at the advice I was given in school, I can see that I was lucky to stumble across the perfect solution that would enable me to achieve this.
Choosing a career path at age 18 is a hard task – and even if you do manage to find an area that you’re passionate about then you still need to find a way to secure a job. The hike in tuition fees and the inevitable debt that comes with it has begun to deter many young people from pursuing a university degree. Now is the time to educate young people about the alternatives and improve the quality of careers advice service in schools so that it is accurate and inclusive of all options.