Olivia Sutcliffe – Accounting Apprentice

What led you to enrol on an apprenticeship?

I applied for my role at Sesame Bankhall Group (SBG) knowing the position came alongside the opportunity to study for the next level of my AAT via an apprenticeship. The previous level I had completed myself on day release at another college (in a previous role), so I was unsure what to expect in the newly formed AAT Apprenticeship. I was eager to begin and have not looked back since. You gain more support and the apprenticeship route ensures you link your role to what you learn – of which I cannot understate the importance enough!

SBG is now offering more apprenticeships to other staff members due to the feedback from my experience. So this is clearly something that works, not just for those around the school-leaver age but also those who are more mature, even with children of their own. There is always something for somebody to learn, and qualifications are so important and greatly looked at these days.

What does your role as an apprentice entail?

My AAT apprenticeship is with Damar; however, I took the personal choice in completing my qualification via distance learning which is supported by Eagle. I follow a similar programme to that as if I were in class – a work day a week for self-study. For the other 4 days in the working week, I complete tasks critical to the business which link to my studies. For example, bad debts and provisions, accrued income, journals, reconciliations and more.

In summary, I am an employee with the same responsibilities as others in my team who are not undertaking an Apprenticeship – I just get a day each week to study the AAT material and complete my portfolio!

What have you enjoyed most about your apprenticeship?

I have enjoyed the opportunity to gain a greater depth of knowledge in knowing how my studies link to my role. This has not only helped me in my studies and understanding key principles and tasks, but also complete my work at SBG more accurately – actually being able to explain the task to others and cross-train them.

What has been a personal highlight of your apprenticeship?

Gaining my Distinction results for the final synoptic exam as well as the End Point Assessment left me feeling elated, it was a weight off of my chest and showed me that hard work really does pay off! I have to thank my tutor (Neil) and trainer (Susannah) for their immense support. I am actually not sure who was happier at my results – me or them!

Have you got any advice for school leavers looking for the right career path?

School leavers are easily swayed or forced to believe they need to attend University, but, unless you definitively know the Degree you want to take, why should you rush into University and the debt it entails?

This is what I found out in my A-Level years 12 through 13, but I stood my ground on what I believed was right for me as I was unsure on the path to take with regards to career and further education. This enabled me to go into new working roles where after a few months I found what I wanted as my career path; Accounting and Finance.

With research, it became clear to me that many employers were seeking employees with AAT rather than degrees in Accountancy. This came with further benefits; funding for the professional qualifications, being paid as you learn whilst you work and gaining valuable work experience alongside your study.

I can easily say I have no regrets in the path I took. I have a lot more experience than those my age who went to University, not an ounce of debt unlike their £50,000+ debt and I know I can achieve the same as them, if not more.