AAT students: why you should enter the WorldSkills UK accounting competition

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The WorldSkills UK accounting competition is a great way to boost students’ confidence as well as the profile of their training providers. Here, four previous contestants describe how they enjoyed the WorldSkills experience – and how their careers benefited.

Daniel Inglis MAAT, WorldSkills UK Accounting Technician gold medallist

My success in the WorldSkills Accounting Technician competition has given me a great platform for my career. Only two weeks after the event, I was approached by a firm who offered me the chance to become their Internal Accountant with the opportunity to progress to take over as Finance Director in the near future.

The Skills Show competition was different to anything I’d done before. The challenge itself tested my technical ability and mental toughness, while I also had to act in a professional manner. The overall atmosphere and attitude of the judges were more relaxed than what I’d experienced a few years before, which made me feel more comfortable. However, it can be unnerving knowing your work is being shown on the big screens outside to the public!

The final event itself was a good show. A great line-up of acts is put on for the competitors and public, which helps take your mind off anticipating the results of the competition. They provide a great after-party for competitors, which was a nice close to the week’s events.

In terms of career development, I can say that the doors that have opened for me were thanks to the WorldSkills award, and I am relishing my future career!

Training providers need to submit teams of students by 22 March 2013. Learn more about the AAT WorldSkills UK competition.

Emma Ratcliffe, WorldSkills UK Accounting Technician silver and bronze medallist

Competing at WorldSkills was an amazing experience, and I wouldn’t hesitate to put myself forward again if the opportunity arose. I met some amazing people, had a fantastic time and pitted my skills against many other talented students from across the UK. To be able to put this on my CV and show potential employers that I am a cut above other candidates is invaluable. I competed both as a team and an individual, and it was great to be able to showcase my skills and confirm to myself that I really had learnt a lot while studying AAT.

I decided to study AAT at Warrington Collegiate after I was made redundant from my job with a local charity. As a part-time worker and parent of two young children I found that my options to continue working part-time and still maintain my salary level were minimal in my area, and I began to consider re-training to widen my career options.

Shortly after starting AAT Level 3, my college tutor asked if any students would be interested in entering the AAT Level 2 WorldSkills competition. Although hesitant at first, I put myself forward and was chosen by the college to make up a team along with two of my fellow students. Along with a second team from the college we competed in the regional heats early in 2012.

I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was quite nervous when we arrived at the venue for the heats. We worked well together as a team and put our Level 2 skills to the test. I was delighted when our team was placed first in the North West heats, which meant we were off to the final in London!

In May 2012 our team, accompanied by our college tutor, boarded a train for the WorldSkills final at AAT’s offices in London. The final really tested our skills to the limit, but we pulled together as a team and were amazed to receive third place and were delighted with our bronze medals. This was an amazing result for us personally, but also for the college as it was Warrington’s first year competing at WorldSkills. We were also recognised by our college, receiving Special Achievement awards at their annual presentation evening.

Later in 2012 AAT invited past medal winners to compete in a Level 3 competition at the Skills Show at the NEC in Birmingham. I was nervous competing on my own, without the support of my teammates, and it was a challenging environment to compete in. I was thrilled and delighted when I received my silver medal at the closing ceremony – seeing my name on the big screen as a medal winner was my personal highlight. I even had my photo in the local newspaper!

I am incredibly proud to have taken part, to have been placed so highly and to have two medals taking pride of place on my desk at work!

Katie Walch, WorldSkills UK Accounting Technician bronze medallist

I was originally hesitant as to whether or not to take part in this event, but I am so glad I decided to go along. It was a fantastic experience. Not only did I get to take part in the event, meet a great bunch of people and gain new experiences, I also really enjoyed seeing other competitors take part in their events.

Laura James MAAT, WorldSkills UK Accounting Technician silver medallist and highly commended

Early in 2009, while studying Level 3 AAT, our tutor asked if anyone would be interested in forming a team of three to compete in the WorldSkills UK Accounting Technician competition, based on the Level 2 AAT syllabus. Being very competitive, I jumped at the chance.

I really enjoyed competing and working with my teammates. We worked well together and left the competition confident that we had done our best.

We then heard that we had won our heat and were in the final! We were so pleased and started to arrange our trip to London, as the final was held at the AAT Head Office at that time. We booked a hotel and travelled down the night before.

We were all quite nervous as we knew that the competition would be tougher this time. It all felt a lot more serious. We’d only agreed to take part as a bit of a laugh, but now we wanted to win! We worked hard, methodically and most importantly as a team, and were happy with how the competition went. When I got the phone call to say we came second, I must admit to being a bit gutted, because I wanted Gold. But my work colleagues pointed out that coming second in a national accounting competition is not a bad achievement!

A few weeks later I had a phone call from my college to ask if I could attend a presentation at the Town Hall, as I was being presented with the Principal’s Award at the college awards ceremony, along with my two teammates. It was a great night, and we were presented with the award by Olympic skier Graham Bell. This was a very proud moment, and it was great that the college recognised our achievement. We were in the local paper on three different occasions – I still have the cuttings!

I went on to become AAT-qualified in August 2010 and am now a full member of AAT and also a registered Member in Practice.

In 2012, I received a letter from AAT asking if I would like to take part in a one off competition against other medal winners from the past five years, and this time it would be individual, not as part of a team. I was in the process of setting up my own business providing bookkeeping and accountancy services and decided that this would be a great talking point to help promote my business.

The competition was being held at The Skills Show, at the NEC. I decided to attend the opening and closing ceremonies as well and was booked into a local hotel for the five days.

I was nervous about competing, this time the competition was based on the Level 3 AAT syllabus and I knew competition would be greater than ever, with all competitors being past medal winners. As the judges said we could start, I turned the page over. I read through the questions with a growing sense of panic, I couldn’t remember any of this! I stopped, read through the questions again, and made notes, highlighted important info and thought about how to tackle the questions in a calm, methodical way. I did my best, and, whilst I thought I had not done particularly well, it was a great experience. After all, I hadn’t sat an exam in over two years – I was rather out of practice!

At the closing ceremony, I was so surprised to see my name up in lights, I had received a ‘Highly Commended’ award! I was really shocked and pleased; I’d obviously done better than I thought. I had come fourth!

The Skills Show was amazing, and I am hoping to attend next year with my 15 year-old sister as I think it is a great way to explore what is out there. University is not always the right way to go and The Skills Show embraces this. I volunteered to help talk to some potential AAT students on the AAT stand, and I had a great day talking about my experiences studying AAT and what it means to me. I have a lot to thank my MAAT status for, having had four promotions at work since starting AAT and managing to quadruple my salary over five years. Although I am now being made redundant, I look at this as an exciting opportunity to set my own business up, and registered as a Member in Practice in November 2012.

I now use my Award Winning status to promote my business, and I believe that my clients highly regard this. It gives me a talking point and to have come 4th against such strong competition is a real achievement. My LinkedIn strapline is ‘Award Winning AAT Qualified Accountant and Owner of Dynamic Accountancy’ which I feel makes me stand out from the crowd.

The AAT WorldSkills UK competition is open to students who have completed AAT Level 2 and committed to AAT Level 3.

Teams can only be submitted by training providers, who can learn more at aat.org.uk/worldskills. If you’re a student keen to compete, share this article with your tutor.

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

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