Scotland’s first batch of accountancy graduate apprentices is counting on a bright future thanks to a new route into the profession.
Skills Development Scotland (SDS) worked with the sector and Robert Gordon University (RGU) to develop the first Graduate Apprenticeship in accountancy.
Now almost 40 people are working, earning and learning to gain a degree in accountancy with RGU and a range of different employers.
The employers come from sectors including oil and gas, and engineering, as well as accountancy and finance firms.
The first accountancy programme is a pilot with RGU and has been developed in conjunction with two professional bodies – ICAS and ACCA.
Students complete both an Honours degree and a professional accounting qualification in a 5-year period – a significant time saving in comparison with more traditional graduate routes.
RGU has worked closely with employers, offering additional practical support such as a mentor coach.
Head of Aberdeen Business School at RGU, professor Elizabeth Gammie, said: “The Graduate Apprenticeship provides opportunities to earn a degree while working and is extremely accessible so that people don't have to up sticks and live in a big city to attend university.
“As a university, we can provide support and build confidence - and work with employers to help their staff develop new skills when entering the workplace.
"The accountancy profession is often criticised for a lack of diversity, but Graduate Apprenticeships are a great way of changing that.”
Mark Allison, ICAS executive director – Learning, said: “At ICAS we are committed to increasing the diversity of the accountancy profession and are very supportive of new educational routes that open up access to the profession.
“The graduate apprenticeship route from RGU is an innovative programme that enables talented individuals from a variety of backgrounds to train to become Chartered Accountants.”
Accountant at Leiper and Summers, Jennifer Cardno, said: “The Graduate Apprenticeship in Accounting is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain practical skills on the job and put their academic learning into practice in real time.
“The combined support of a workplace mentor and the university gives a unique learning path for students.
“This provides real benefits for employers in terms of the students having the professional skills and qualifications required to excel in the workplace.”
SDS director of Critical Skills and Occupations, Diane Greenlees, said: “The Graduate Apprenticeship in accountancy is a great example of responding to employer needs to help meet Scotland’s critical skills gaps.”