“I can genuinely say I have never had one single regret about not going to university. Getting on the career ladder early and gaining practical experience was 100% worth it.”
Not all routes into a career in finance start with an accountancy degree. We have a number of opportunities available to students, including our school leaver programme where they first complete a higher apprenticeship before going on to their professional accountancy qualification. It is an excellent option for those not wishing to go to university.
A great example of someone thriving on the back of a school leavers programme is Becky Eagle, an audit partner in our Birmingham office. For Becky it was about time and money: “I stuck to my gut feeling which was that I didn't want the debt and I wanted to start my career.”
Initially Becky’s school pressured her to apply for university, however, she attended an open day with a top accountancy firm to learn more about her options. She was concerned that a graduate role was the only route available until somebody at the day spoke to her about an opportunity for a higher apprenticeship. Four weeks later Becky was working with the firm and gaining invaluable experience working with different organisations, building client relationships and learning the technical aspects of the job.
Since starting her first role, Becky’s career in accountancy has flourished. She joined Grant Thornton’s Birmingham office in 2012 as an associate director and has since progressed to head of audit and partner.
A school leaver herself, Becky knows how important it is that employers offer alternative entry programmes to open accessibility to a wider group than graduates alone. Recognising this, she has implemented a scheme within her own department.
“As head of audit in Birmingham I've devised a two-week work experience programme for A level students to come in to the office, learn about what we do and even go on client visits. It has been a huge success and it has been great to see them blossom over their time here. If, at the end of the two weeks we feel someone would be a good fit we offer them the opportunity to join our school leaver programme once they’ve completed their A levels”.
As a firm, we want to continue to provide a wide range of opportunities to school leavers. Widening access to the profession and creating environments where talented individuals, like Becky, are not overlooked and can thrive is a key priority.