The AAT accreditation scheme recognises employers who support their finance staff with AAT training and membership, and ongoing professional development.
Sophie Cross interviewed with Maureen Jacobs Chartered FCIPD, HR Manager at Menzies to find out about the training they provide their staff, and the benefits of being an accredited employer.
AAT membership and training?
Out of our permanent base of staff we have 18 students currently undergoing AAT training, either at Professional Diploma (Level 4) or the Advanced Diploma/Professional Diploma (Level 3/4) fast track qualification, which we’ve been transferring our Advanced Diploma students on to. We have an additional five employees who are already AAT-qualified and have now achieved full AAT member status at MAAT, and another two with FMAAT.
We’ve recently had another four trainees joining us who will be beginning their Advanced Diploma/Professional Diploma, combined fast track AAT qualification, under the apprenticeship programme. This is a wonderful way to utilise the apprenticeship levy for AAT trainees. This means they will come away with an apprenticeship and an accountancy qualification – gaining the people and employability skills from the apprenticeship, and the technical side from the AAT – so they’ll have the whole package.
The benefits of qualifications for employees
AAT is a great foundation if [employees] want to go on and achieve additional qualifications, for example, ACA under ICAEW to become a chartered accountant or ACCA, which is more suited to our Outsourcing employees. They might be happy to stay as AAT. Often they are school leavers, aged 18 or 19, so it’s really good for them to be getting an accountancy qualification. Even if they don’t go on to something else, they can be a bookkeeper.
If they are competent and [willing] we will encourage them to continue studying and we can place them where we have vacancies. As an accredited organisation, our team gets extra support from AAT and our Relationship Manager.
Utilising AAT resources
AAT is there from day one as part of our trainee’s induction.
The trainees use their ‘MyAAT’ logins to access their records, [and make use of] a wide range of resources to help them, including test papers and courses. There’s a huge amount of training there and lots of things they can do to improve their chances of passing their exams and to gain understanding of the modules that they’re going to be taking.
We have a dedicated Relationship Manager, Jenny Dack, who is really helpful. We meet regularly and she comes back to us on all our queries and will come in and talk to trainees about what’s available for them.
The importance of building a relationship
What are the benefits of your relationship with AAT?
As an organisation it looks really good to prospective employees and clients for us to be an accredited member of the AAT. It attracts more trainees to come and join us and gives clients more confidence in us.
Supporting staff through their studies
The trainees get study leave, which we gave them before the Government introduced apprenticeships, but it is also forms part of the apprenticeship programme. The study leave is booked in blocks of weeks and we organise the booking of their training for them. They are allocated paid time to go away and carry out their studying and take the exams.
For our permanent employees we offer them sponsorship, funding their AAT courses and exams, and allowing them the study time that they need to fit in around their full-time jobs. This means they can complete the qualification at their own pace.
Setting yourself apart from competitors
Applicants and prospective clients will often look for accreditation. It demonstrates a high professional standard, corporate social responsibility and our commitment to training. It’s very important to us that our team are all fully trained in order to meet, and hopefully exceed, the expectations of our clients.
Sophie Cross is a freelance writer and marketer specialising in business and travel. She is the editor for London Revealed magazine and her clients include lastminute.com Group and the Coca-Cola London Eye.