Why Wannabe Accountants should think about a School Leaver Programme

The ever-changing, topical nature of tax appealed to Ndiwe Rocque, who had A-levels in English Literature, History and Politics. She also wanted the professional qualification offered by the PwC’s Accountancy School Leaver Programme. Think this could be the choice for you too? Read on to get some insider info.

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Why did you decide to undertake an accountancy professional qualification and what is the title of your course? Why did you choose this course in particular?

One of the things that persuaded me to undertake the School Leaver Programme, rather than going to university, was the opportunity to study for a professional qualification. I am working towards the ATT - the Association of Tax Technicians. Having studied “non-finance” related A-levels, people tend to be surprised when I say I work in tax, but studying History and Politics is actually why tax appealed to me.

Tax is a forever-changing field and is highly influenced by politics and economic events, so I jumped at the opportunity to work in such a topical industry, and one that would fund my qualification - so no debt!

Why do you think professional qualifications are of such particular importance for accountants?

I think professional qualifications are important to any profession because they are supported by professional bodies and associations this adds weight and precedence to my work.

What work or skills are you learning on this course? How will they directly make you a better accountant?

I am taught about income tax, which directly influences my role on a day-to-day basis, as I help clients understand their tax obligations and how to manage them effectively. My studies make me a better tax associate as what I learn has a direct link to the work I do, making me more confident about the information I give clients.

Do you think possessing an accountancy qualification makes your clients more trusting or interested in hiring your services? How so? Do you think this is justified?

Clients can be confident that the person giving them tax advice has received the highest quality of teaching from industry experts. This adds weight to the advice that is given, as it’s not given on my own authority, but is backed by a leading professional body.

This is justified, as recently tax has been headline news. It gives our current and potential clients peace of mind knowing that we are qualified and committed to the highest standard of professional conduct, and that our tax knowledge is constantly updated.

What accountancy skills you already possess are assisting your study for this qualification?

I enjoy speaking to people and learning about how businesses work. Being able to speak confidently to my clients at the same time as learning about their businesses really helps with my role.

Would you say this professional qualification is vital to progress further in your career? What do you hope to gain from it?

Definitely! Having an ATT qualification under my belt will act as a distinguishing factor when it comes to progressing in my career, giving me a competitive edge. My qualification will show that I am committed to continuing my personal development and my employers will know my skills and knowledge are up to date.

How many hours do you dedicate to your course each week?

Under the School Leaver (Higher Apprenticeship) Programme, I work alongside my studies but PwC provides an incredible support system. No one expects you to work while you’re at college or revising for an exam. Also everyone you work with is either a training or qualified tax advisor so you have loads of people who you can call on when you need help.

At times it can be difficult but if you let those around you know when you’re struggling with the work-study balance, they will do their upmost to help!

What is the most challenging element of undertaking your professional qualification? And the most enjoyable?

That’s a tough one! The most challenging element is probably be getting to grips with and navigating through the legislation; this is essential - the tax bible! The most enjoyable element is working in the industry, as it’s really rewarding being able to apply what I learn in college to conversation with clients!

Are you being sponsored through your qualification study by an employer?

Yes, PwC sponsor my qualification and have an agreement with Kaplan, our training provider who run classes, exam preparation and more. As the teachers are all qualified accountants they know exactly what it’s like working in practice. Even in the office we are given support from day one: all the new joiners are given a buddy and a people manager, who we can go to with technical tax queries or just for general advice.

How do you hope gaining this qualification will further your accountancy career?

I hope that it will improve my technical knowledge and allow me to progress onto becoming a Chartered Tax Advisor.

What advice would you give to someone just embarking upon this qualification?

Be proactive! Other than college days it’s very much a lot of self-learning, so get yourself into good study habits and use all the resources that you have at your disposal.

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