Skills for life: the important role of Apprenticeships

05 February 2024 - Rachel Cornes

Ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, we sat down with James Tucker, Business Advisory Partner and student lead to talk all things – (you guessed it) – Apprenticeships!

Can you provide an overview of the apprenticeship program at Scrutton Bland?

Our apprenticeship program is a structured training initiative designed to nurture and develop talent within the accounting and finance field. It offers aspiring individuals the opportunity to gain practical experience, industry-specific knowledge, and professional qualifications while contributing to our firm’s growth and success.

Apprenticeships are pivotal for our firm’s future because they bring in fresh talent, infuse new ideas, and ensure continuity in our profession. They allow us to teach individuals who not only understand our values and standards but also contribute to our growth with their unique perspectives and energy. In an ever-evolving industry, apprenticeships ensure that we have a sustainable pipeline of skilled professionals who can adapt to changes and drive our success in the long term.

How long has Scrutton Bland been offering apprenticeships, and why do you offer them?

Scrutton Bland has been offering apprenticeships for over 10 years. We recognise the need to invest in the next generation of accountants and provide a pathway for individuals to enter the profession. This aligns with our commitment to local talent development and fostering a skilled workforce.

How many apprentices do we typically recruit each year? What roles or teams do our apprenticeships cover?

On average, we recruit between 6 to 10 apprentices annually across our offices. Our apprenticeships encompass various roles within our audit, accountancy, and tax teams depending on the specific needs of each office.

What qualifications and skills do apprentices acquire during their time with us?

Apprentices gain a combination of on-the-job experience and academic qualifications. They develop technical accounting skills, client management abilities, and a strong foundation in tax regulations. Additionally, they work towards achieving recognised professional qualifications, such as ACCA or AAT.

What kind of support do apprentices receive while training with us?

Apprentices receive guidance from experienced professionals within the firm, whether that be qualified students, managers they work for, or the partners within the firm. Apprentices are assigned a mentor who provides ongoing support, monitors their progress, and helps them navigate challenges they may encounter during their apprenticeship. As we take on a number of apprentices each year, they also have a cohort of students they can revise with and reach out to as well.

Outside of work, we encourage our students to get stuck into local initiatives we are involved with as well whether that be by attending some of our social committee events, making use of the volunteering opportunities or helping to raise money at local events such as the Dragon Boat Race or Colchester Half Marathon.

Can you tell me more about the recruitment process for selecting apprentices?

Our recruitment process typically involves advertising apprenticeship vacancies in September when students go back to school for their final year. We host open evenings in our offices, which are a great way to come and introduce yourself to the team and to find out more about which department would be a good fit for you. Once those have taken place, applicants can then apply for the roles. Our careers team will then arrange a short telephone interview and will arrange for candidates to complete an aptitude test so that we can assess students based on their motivation, and alignment with our firm’s values and objectives. Successful students will then be invited into our offices to carry out a group-based and 1-1 interview with some of our senior leaders across the firm. We find this gives a great opportunity for us to really get to know the candidates and for them to get to know us as a firm so that they can be sure Scrutton Bland is where they want to train.

Do our apprentices have opportunities to work on real client projects, and if so, how does this benefit their development?

Yes absolutely! Our apprentices actively participate in client engagements under the supervision of experienced team members. This hands-on experience helps them develop practical skills, gain exposure to a variety of industries, and build client relationships.

What advice would you give to someone considering an apprenticeship with our firm?

To anyone considering an apprenticeship with our firm, I would advise them to be enthusiastic, proactive, and open to learning. It’s crucial to demonstrate a strong work ethic, attention to detail, and a willingness to embrace challenges. Think outside the box and push yourself to do something to make you stand out from the crowd. Our apprenticeship scheme is competitive, with hundreds of students applying, so make sure you spend time making your application different.

Our 2025 application process will begin in Summer 2024, so keep an eye out here for when applications open.

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