Look who’s hiring – companies who are recruiting now

Despite the difficulties this year, many businesses are still looking for school leavers and apprentices and there are some amazing career opportunities available.

Some are recruiting now, while others are asking students to get in touch with a view to starting next spring. So the positive message is that employers are still hiring and there are lots of jobs out there even during an economically difficult time.

Why employers are still hiring

Smart companies know that future talent comes from the young people they recruit and train, and so the best businesses are still committing to hiring school-leavers and using AAT qualifications within an Apprenticeship.

It is important for employers to focus on succession planning and building their talent pipeline, even in these tough times. Indeed, many employers are keen to keep hiring trainees, having learnt lessons from the 2008 crash.

Moore Kingston Smith

Moore Kingston Smith is a firm of chartered accountants and leading business advisers and has six offices in London and across the South East: the City of London and West End of London, Heathrow, Redhill, Surrey, Romford, and St Albans. It is in the process of recruiting new AAT trainees to commence apprenticeships early next year.

“When you join Moore Kingston Smith, you will become part of a team that strongly encourages individual thinking and an entrepreneurial attitude,” says Natalie Hannan, Early Talent Manager. “The environment is friendly, stimulating, and progressive. You are treated as a person, not a number. With 650 people across seven offices, the firm is are large enough to provide you with exposure to a huge variety of opportunities and responsibilities, but small enough to know who everyone is.

Moore Kingston Smith is an AAT accredited training firm and is committed to giving each person that joins first class training within a personal and friendly working environment. Support, guidance, and encouragement are always on hand from an allocated training Manager, training Partner, and dedicated People team.

As a new recruit, you will train initially as a general practitioner, not as a specialist. This enables you to gain a broad range of experience from the beginning of your training contract working on different sized clients in various businesses.

The key skills that Moore Kingston Smith is looking for and will assess through the recruitment process are:

  • Building relationships:  In every aspect of the role, you will need to collaborate with others in order to get the job done. You will also need to be confident dealing with clients in a friendly and professional manner. 
  • Creativity and innovation: Candidates who are keen to get to grips with a range of different challenges and bring a fresh perspective. You should enjoy learning new systems and technologies and not be afraid to suggest new ways of doing things.
  • Initiative and drive:  You’ll need to be able to make decisions, solve problems, and see a task through to completion. You’ll also need to be ambitious for your own development, setting yourself high standards, and striving to excel.
  • Flexibility and adaptability: During the programme, you will experience a variety of projects of differing durations. You’ll need to be adaptable as you work with different teams and different clients. You’ll need to pay close attention to detail but also be able to think about the bigger picture. 
  • Presenting and communicating:  We recognise the value of hearing diverse views, one of which will be yours. You’ll be analysing information, and writing, and presenting to various audiences in a clear, concise, and persuasive way.
  • Commercial awareness: In order to best support our clients you need to understand their business. We are looking for candidates who take an interest in how industries and businesses work. Who keep abreast of current affairs and think about how they might impact the clients we work with and the services they need.

Moore Kingston Smith is planning to recruit around 50 trainees per year – this will be a mix of school leavers and graduates.  If you are interested in this opportunity please visit their recruitment page here. Applications for March can be made here.

Grant Thornton

Grant Thornton UK LLP is part of the Grant Thornton network of independent assurance, tax and advisory firms in over 135 countries.

Across its graduate and school leaver programmes, the business is hoping to recruit 400 people to join the trainee programmes in 2021 and of this, between 80 and 100 will be school leavers.

“We are looking for a host of different skills and behaviours that we believe are important to support our trainees with successful careers at our firm,” says Joanne Ritchie, Head of Early Careers, People & Culture at Grant Thornton.

“We look for candidates who demonstrate our CLEARR values which are Collaboration, Leadership, Excellence, Agility, Respect and Responsibility,” she says. “We want to work with people who connect to our firm’s values and we measure this throughout the assessment process.

During the recruitment process the following strengths and competencies will be assessed:

  • Self-management – People who can successfully manage various priorities, deadlines and stakeholders. They are comfortable working with a mixture of different clients in a short period of time. They are naturally organised and enjoy the variety of work and regular changing client environments. They confidently manage their own workload and successfully keep their work and projects on track and to a high standard.
  • Co-creator – People who are collaborative thrive in achieving results through teamwork. They can leverage collective expertise and enjoy supporting their peers and juniors. They understand that delivering quality work involves managing their own workload whilst thinking of the overall team objectives. They are confident in their own approach and comfortable developing, mentoring and coaching others in the team.
  • Driven to succeed – People who are driven to succeed are self-motivated and push themselves to achieve. They naturally take pride in their work, holding themselves and others to account. They inherently have high standards and a desire to deliver quality work. They demonstrate persistence and resilience, positively working through challenges and dealing well with pressure. They face adversity with confidence and are driven by their focus to succeed and always deliver quality work.
  • Growth mindset – People who have a growth mindset seek out opportunities to learn and gain feedback, striving to improve themselves and those around them. They have a desire for learning and upskilling themselves and others to ensure they can deliver the best client service. They are curious, ask sensible questions and apply their learning/theory in a meaningful and solutions-focused approach.
  • Naturally Analytical – People who are logical thinkers take a methodological approach in understanding the root causes of problems, which they then use to inform solutions. They regularly think of the bigger picture and how everything fits together – they know and appreciate that by fully understanding the client and our services they will be able to provide better client work. They can spot details, errors or inaccuracies easily and think critically about the information available to them. They enjoy analysis, working with numbers and applying their professional studies to client work.
  • Relationship Maker – People who are relationship builders are proactive in forming lasting relationships and understand the importance, in business, of building relationships with, and meeting the needs of, colleagues and clients. They won’t be afraid to challenge clients when they need to and will be able to ask difficult questions to get the heart of the issue.
  • Effective communication – People who can communicate successfully both verbally and written. They understand the need for accurate and clear documentation and the impact this has on client work. They understand the importance of effective communication with internal colleagues and clients in order to provide quality work. They ask sensible questions to gather the necessary information to deliver, and they are confident to challenge and manage expectations when required.

If you are interested in applying you can visit the website to get lots more information about the trainee programmes and to apply directly. 

Here you can learn about the different opportunities available and also get employability support. The AAT application page can be found here.

Scrutton Bland

Scrutton Bland provide financial advice, insurance broking & tax accounting and have offices in Cambridge, Colchester, Diss and Ipswich.

James Tucker, partner at Scrutton Bland says: “We currently have just under 30 trainees and we very much believe in ‘growing our own’.  I do think that we have a responsibility to play our part in offering high quality roles to young people in the communities we serve especially in the current climate. 

“One of the fundamental tenets that we live by is that we empower clients and our people to achieve their goals.  We are definitely not a sausage machine, we treat everyone as an individual and design roles around people’s strengths and interests so that our people enjoy their work and thrive in their careers.

“I often start interviews with ‘what makes you want to become an accountant?’ and the response invariably involves quite a lot of commentary about maths.  It comes as a surprise to some that accountancy is far more about people than numbers – yes you need to be able to understand and interpret numbers but it is the relationships we build with the clients that allow us to use the what the numbers are telling us to help them run and grow their businesses”.

“We normally take on between four and six trainees across our two main offices in Ipswich and Colchester every year and whilst we have not yet finalised our numbers for next year I do not expect it to be very different.”

The website contains lots of detail on what you can expect from an apprenticeship with Scrutton Bland and how to apply. You can find more information about apprenticeships here. You can apply here for the 2021 Apprenticeship Programme here.

Case study: Worcestershire Council

Although Worcestershire Council is not currently recruiting, it has hired 10 apprentices whilst going through the pandemic.

“We set out to recruit a number of apprentices who would bring with them a drive to learn and develop into confident future finance professionals,” says Steph Simcox, Deputy Chief Finance Officer (Service Finance) Finance at Worcestershire County Council. 

“We were looking for ambition, commitment, a sense of wanting to learn new things and a general focus on being inspired to work in the public sector finance world. We weren’t just looking for academic achievement, although a general requirement to have GSCE level results was important, we were looking for people with great personalities and willingness to work together to achieve great things for Worcestershire, the County Council and its Finance service as well as being able to make a difference and push themselves to grow.

“We initially set out to recruit six apprentices, but based on the number of excellent candidates we interviewed, we extended the recruitment and offered 10 posts across the whole of the finance service. “We offer an excellent career average pension scheme, paid annual leave, study leave to attend college and to take exams and prepare for them as well on the job training and development.”

Each apprentice has another apprentice as a “buddy” and a senior manager as a mentor to support their development. They have weekly apprentice meetings where they take turns to chair meetings to give them the experience of managing meetings and an opportunity to share ideas, experiences and ask questions of a senior manager who also attends to support them. 

Once they have completed their apprenticeship they will have the demonstrable experience to apply for finance posts not only in the council but within our partner District Councils and other public sector organisations. Once in a permanent role, they will be offered further opportunities to study for final level AAT exams and then other qualifications such as CIPFA, Institute of Internal Audit, Business Administration qualifications, project management and other qualifications relevant to their particular role.

Further information on working for Worcestershire County Council can be found here.

For employers

If you are committed/interested in hiring new Accountancy Apprentices this year, please get in touch with our team on employers@aat.org.uk.

Download the SME apprentice ebook nov 2020.

Further reading:

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Marianne Curphey is an award-winning financial writer and columnist, and author of the book How Money Works. She worked as City Editor at The Guardian, deputy editor of Guardian online, and has worked for The Times, Telegraph and BBC.

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