Completing AAT made me better at my job

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People say you can’t judge someone until you walk in their shoes. Jackie Bembridge, Truro College’s Business Development Advisor, took this mantra to heart. She enrolled onto the AAT Accounting Qualification to increase her knowledge of the course and gain more credibility with employers. Here she talks about how her approach has made her better at her job

I’ve worked at Truro College in Cornwall for three years. In that time, I’ve been the main contact for AAT enquiries – from people wanting to complete the qualification and potential employers looking to take on AAT apprentices.

The main purposes of my role are two-fold. Firstly, to sell the qualification to potential students and secondly, to match students with suitable employers once they have commenced their studies. The College holds several open days throughout the year where we provide course information and guidance regarding opportunities in accountancy and finance to potential students.

We talk with employers and assist with their recruitment of apprentices by advertising vacancies on our website.  We find that many employers are looking for people with the right attitude as they will learn the accounting skills through their college studies.

The students at our college are aged anywhere between16 and 60. During the qualification, many of them study one day a week and work the remaining days. I knew it was a demanding schedule juggling part-time study with full-time work but, having never done it myself, I couldn’t really appreciate what the students were going through. I’d also found that whilst I knew the ins and outs of the qualification, I couldn’t really provide sound advice as to what to expect when completing AAT.

Why I enrolled on the AAT Accounting Qualification

So two years ago I decided to enrol onto the AAT Accounting Qualification to experience it for myself, figuring there was no better way to recruit for and sell the qualification.  Making the decision to complete AAT was one of the best I’ve ever made.

I now have total empathy with students and more credibility with employers. I’m no longer looked at as someone that is purely recruiting for courses – I can provide credible and honest advice about expectations of course content, career prospects and the commitment required from both employer and learner.

With the qualification to my name, I can also demonstrate to employers how having an AAT qualified staff member or trainee can help their business.

Life after completing AAT

I finished AAT in February this year. Since then, Truro has introduced a second annual intake for the qualification resulting in an increase in student numbers.

I’d like to think my ability to offer helpful and informed advice has contributed to this. Realistically, students won’t enrol in a course if you can’t demonstrate the benefits they will get out of it. I also make it a priority to ensure that all students are aware of and consider an accounting apprenticeship as part of their studies.

Since completing the qualification, my relationships with local employers have strengthened and more of them are now willing to take on an AAT apprentice/s. Around 30 per cent of our AAT students complete an apprenticeship and we have extremely high progression rates from Level 3 to 4.

It’s important our students feel supported throughout their entire journey and the knowledge and skills I’ve gained through AAT has made it possible for me to offer this support where needed.

The learning doesn’t stop when the course ends

I’ve learnt a great deal along my AAT journey to date, most notably I’ve gained:

  1. Perseverance – some things just take longer to learn and you need more time to practice
  2. Confidence – I can now hold a detailed conversation with accountants and can speak ‘in their language’
  3. Job satisfaction – I now know that I can provide real guidance based on experience to students and employers. I’m helping people realise their ambitions and achieve success.

I’d encourage anyone from an AAT learning provider or college to undertake the Level 2 qualification (at the very least). It helps you understand how much time, effort and commitment is required and you also get to up skill, which is an added bonus.

Jackie Bembridge is Truro College’s Business Development Advisor.

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