Bookkeeping brilliance: how a short course is accelerating DEFRA’s success

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Follow this government department’s journey as they harness the power of bookkeeping to fuel financial excellence and power career advancement.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) plays a vital part in looking after the nation’s heritage by safeguarding the UK’s environment and promoting sustainable food and farming.

It’s a wide-ranging brief covering everything from net zero, climate change and waste to flood defences and plant health. But when the team is not saving the planet, they have another role to play – being good stewards of their budget– especially now that public sector finances are tight.

Recently DEFRA recognised the benefits it could gain from a training program that could level up the financial competencies of its staff members – in particular, its apprenticeship and graduate intake. With a diverse workforce and varying levels of expertise, a comprehensive and accessible course was required to bridge knowledge gaps and promote consistency across the department.

David Atkins, Head of Management Reporting at DEFRA, explains the rationale behind choosing AAT’s Essentials Bookkeeping Course: “We wanted a training solution that would not only provide our staff with the skills required to effectively manage financial operations but also offer flexibility to accommodate their different roles and responsibilities.”

“We’ve got a lot of people on apprenticeships who don’t have a finance background. So the bookkeeping course really gives them that building block.

Essentials bridges the gap

The AAT Essentials Bookkeeping Course is a two-day programme covering key topics in bookkeeping and financial management. Courses are delivered by expert trainers and provide a structured learning path with additional study materials, interactive exercises, and assessments to ensure understanding and retention of the content.

David Atkins says DEFRA found the course proved its worth, “The AAT Essentials Bookkeeping Course is an excellent resource for our staff. It covers all the fundamental principles of bookkeeping and financial management, enabling our employees to develop a strong foundation of knowledge.”

Bookkeeping boost for year-end

DEFRA has arranged the bookkeeping training followed by year-end training just before the year-end itself. This has meant the training has been highly relevant to real world challenges, and employees and employer have quickly seen results.

“It’s benefited our organisation by making sure that we’re well prepared for year-end. Because they understand the accounting principles, they are prepared to collect the right evidence, ask the right questions and collect the right evidence to justify decisions. And we’ve become quite reliant on that.”

Confident staff achieve faster success

Since implementing the AAT Essentials Bookkeeping Course, DEFRA has seen a significant improvement in staff performance and efficiency. Employees are empowered with the necessary skills to accurately handle financial tasks and make informed decisions.

David Atkins says: “Our staff members who have completed the AAT Essentials Bookkeeping Course have demonstrated a heightened level of confidence in their roles. They are now equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively manage financial records, analyse data, and contribute to informed decision-making.

“Since completing the course, a number have managed to attain promotion, we’ve got a number that have moved on to CCAB (Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies) qualifications. The course has really given them a really strong basis for understanding finance, and the ability to solve problems. That really strong start gives them the foundation to move forward quickly.”

AAT Essentials: Bookkeeping

Our AAT Essentials: Bookkeeping course can give your staff a solid foundation in bookkeeping and accounting principles in just two days, improving their financial expertise and operational skills.

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As DEFRA continues to prioritise staff development and performance improvement, the AAT Essentials Bookkeeping Course has emerged as a valuable tool for enhancing financial competencies within the organisation.

It’s now a regular part of induction for apprentices, and it’s also used to support graduates recruited directly from university.

The course can benefit any size of business. To find out your organisation could benefit, visit this page.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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