A-Level results day: Why more young people than ever have entrepreneurial ambitions

A-Level results days in the 21st Century tend to follow a familiar pattern, and for those of you who have witnessed many of them, you’ll be aware of the drill by now.

But as many AAT students past and present will profess, university is not the only route to a successful career after completing your school studies.

And this summer, young people have told us that their ambitions don’t end at getting a successful job in the workplace – just under half of them have ambitions to set up their own business at some point in the future.

Young people have strong entrepreneurial spirit

We spoke to over 1,000 16-24 year old’s during July, and while 43% told us they wanted to start a small business one day, it was those from lower social-economic backgrounds (49%) who proved to be the most ambitious. Over half (51%) believed that becoming an entrepreneur was an accessible option for them.

We’re proud to say that many of our students and members from more disadvantaged backgrounds have been empowered by AAT in their hopes to achieve a successful career in finance. Check out some of their stories here as part of our #AATPowerUp social mobility series.

Accountancy skills = Transferable skills

We know that gaining finance skills through our accounting qualifications gives people the skills that count for any industry, as every sector needs financially-savvy employees.

Despite failing his first year of college and not going to university, Akash Ruparelia MAAT / AATQB went on to succeed as part of the first group to graduate from the Leadership Through Sport and Business (LTSB) programme back in 2012.

This programme gave him AAT accounting qualifications while working with the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to give him coaching and leadership skills. Ruparelia, now 24, became a fully qualified chartered accountant earlier this year.

“AAT gave me the foundational accounting knowledge I needed to start out in my career,” he says.

And it’s clear from our survey that young people agree with Ruparelia’s approach. 40% of them identified financial management skills as essential to one day running their own business.

Upskilling will be important in future careers

Our survey also highlighted that over 60% of young people expect to upskill during their working life, due to the changing nature of the job market. More than half said they are willing to gain a new qualification such as a degree, while 38% would be prepared to change career and 37% would undertake an apprenticeship.

In part, it’s likely young people’s expectations around having more than one career during their working life that has led to this desire to continually learn and upskill.

One in five 16-24 year olds that we surveyed expect to change careers twice during their working lifetime (23%), dropping to 14% for those that expect this to happen three times. Around 1-in-6 (16%) believe they will change career once, with the same amount not expecting to change career at all.

Access to a variety of sectors

If you’ve received your A-Level results today, congratulations on completing your schooling – no doubt a great deal of hard work and graft has already gone in. But if you haven’t got what you wanted, an AAT finance qualification is an accessible option that will give you the finance skills you’ll need to access sectors from fashion to football to fitness.

And these skills will be essential if you one day decide to start your own business.

AAT will be sharing various success stories across all industries, including those who have set up their own business as a result of gaining AAT accounting qualifications, on social media via #skillsthatcount.

Adam Harwood is AAT's Media Relations Manager.

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