Can I switch to an apprenticeship?

aat comment

It isn’t just school-leavers who use apprenticeships to launch their careers. Many people who’ve been in jobs for years are becoming apprentices to improve their prospects.

Here’s how you can leap across to an apprenticeship, even if you’re already studying or in a job… 

What does an average accounting apprentice look like? Chances are, you’ve pictured a young school-leaver. Try imagining that typical apprentice again. Today, nearly half (47%) of all apprenticeships started are by people aged 25 and over, with many joining or switching from other careers. 

“There’s no upper age limit on apprenticeships – you can become one at any age,” says Simon Deane, director at training provider Accountancy Learning. He outlines the following scenarios where people might want to make a sideways switch: 

  • You might be working in another department such as marketing, with no financial experience whatsoever, but want to work in accountancy. You may even be able to leap across to an apprenticeship while staying on the same salary. 
  • You could already be working in finance, but don’t have any formal qualifications. Many professionals are inspired to gain qualifications after watching ambitious younger apprentices come into the office armed with new skills learned through their 20% off-the-job training, and are worried about being overtaken. 
  • As a way of jump-starting your career. If you’re studying AAT Level 2 or 3, you can earn money in a job while progressing to study Level 4. Best of all, your new employer will pay for your tuition. 

How to make the switch 

If you want to become an apprentice within your current company 

If you’d like to move to the finance team of your current company, ask your HR team or manager about apprenticeship opportunities. They might have an apprenticeship scheme that you can apply for. If there’s no apprenticeship programme, don’t worry! Your boss may still consider taking on an apprentice. However, you may need to convince them of the benefits.

Put a business case together in writing before sharing this with your boss. Talk about the advantages of apprenticeships for your company, plus what you’d like to achieve in the role. Remember, your boss might have some old-fashioned ideas about apprentices – such as they’re only for manual professions – so make sure there are plenty of statistics and facts in your proposal about how they’ve benefited other firms. 

If you’re studying and/or want to work for another company 

Apprenticeship schemes are available at companies of all sizes. Do you want to be an apprentice at a Big Four firm, such as KPMG or EY, which all have acclaimed apprenticeship schemes? Or do you fancy working for a practice? Maybe you want to work in ‘industry’ – large organisations from the civil service to Network Rail all offer apprenticeships. 

If you’ve identified the company you’d like to work for, head to their website for more information. 

Or you can see what other apprenticeship opportunities are available – and apply for them – here: 

Hannah Dolan is AAT Comment’s Content Editor.

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