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When KPMG announced it would be launching its own AAT Accounting Apprenticeship programme, KPMG360°, staff actually cheered.

Michael Walby, KPMG’s director of professional qualification training, wasn’t surprised. “I think a large part of it is about the reputation of the qualification,” he says. “Our apprentices recognise AAT as a respected qualification in the marketplace.” KPMG360° was set up to give school leavers a chance to experience all aspects of the business before deciding on a role in a specific team. KPMG took on 110 apprentices in the first intake last year, and this year is expanding the scheme to include its Reading and Edinburgh offices. “We felt AAT would give the apprentices a broad understanding that would help them transition into whatever business area they choose to specialise in,” says Kathryn Roberts, senior manager of KPMG360°. “It’s about making sure we have a range of ways in which to attract talent into the organisation.”

Accounting for taste

Leticia Nascimento, one of KPMG’s apprentices, didn’t know what she wanted to do before she came across the programme. She’d applied to universities and apprenticeship placements, hoping to find something that appealed. But the chance to try a range of roles at one of the biggest accounting firms in the world swung things for her. “You can take something from every area,” she says. “Even if you’re unsure about one area, you can take the knowledge you get from it and apply it elsewhere.” Leticia started off working in KPMG’s Learning Academy, creating e-learning programmes for clients. She has now entered the world of forensic accounting and financial risk management. “The programme is definitely the best option for me,” she says. Fellow apprentice Igne Alisauskaite loves the social aspect of the job: “Because there’s quite a large intake on the programme, you know a lot of people around the office,” she says. “As you’re working in different areas, you can share your experiences.”

In good company

KPMG is one of many accredited employers that actively employ and develop AAT students. Others include Asda, Procter & Gamble and travel company TUI Group, owner of Thomson Holidays. Sharon Bessell, a financial controller at TUI Group, knows the power of good on-the-job training. Sharon relates the tale of one of her team members who was often crippled by shyness and a lack of self-confidence. The team member decided to study AAT Accounting Qualifications. To begin with, she expected to fail, but pushed herself to try anyway. To her surprise, she did very well, and it transformed her as a person. Her confidence grew with her knowledge, and now she is one of TUI Group’s rising stars. “If there is some untapped talent we can bring to the surface, we will,” says Sharon. “There’s a really big benefit for us in encouraging staff to study.” Studying leads to job satisfaction, which creates a positive atmosphere at work. “We like to have a happy team,” says Sharon. “We have social activities across the year. We have a really good buzz in the team and want to encourage and maintain that.” At TUI Group, once people have the right skills, they can travel the world and work in any of the company’s offices, in countries such as Italy, Spain, Canada, India and China, providing a further incentive to gain new skills.

Photo: Team KPMG: Igne Alisauskaite (third left) and Leticia Nascimento (far right) with their KPMG360° colleagues, including Michael Walby and Kathryn Roberts (both centre).

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

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