|Qualification:||Level 3 Assistant Accountant Standard|
Oliver Weatherburn completed his Level 2 Accountancy Apprenticeship with IPS and his Employer Smart Office Solution, one of the UK’s leading independent print management providers based in Sevenoaks. Oliver has recently progressed onto a Level 3 Assistant Accountant Apprenticeship Standard and spoke to us about his Apprenticeship experiences so far and how he is glad he took the Apprenticeship route to start his career instead of going to University …
“I completed my A-levels in 2018 and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I was initially going to go to university for Business Management and was accepted by my 5 choices but after some thought, I decided I wouldn’t necessarily need University for the type of jobs I was interested in. I thought actual work experience in the role would benefit me more. Other than letting us know about the ‘Not Going to Uni’ website my school didn’t really supply any information about Apprenticeships, so I declined my offers and started looking on the GOV website where you can search for your interests and find an Apprenticeship within this area, but by chance a friend told me about the Accountancy Apprenticeship here at Smart Office Solution and it really appealed to me as I love maths and have always wanted to go down a business career pathway, I applied for the role and was pleased I got accepted.
I’ve been here now for about a year and half, I absolutely loved doing my Apprenticeship and I have now progressed from a Level 2 Accountancy to a Level 3 Assistant Accountant Apprenticeship Standard. As a Finance Apprentice my main roles are credit control, purchase ledgers, supplying/chasing invoices, billing customers plus admin work. It’s been my first proper job out of school and it’s already taught me so much and not just within my qualification, but actual life skills too. Throughout my experience I feel my confidence has really grown especially when speaking to customers on the telephone. Initially I stuttered and was uncomfortable speaking to them but then I worked with the sales team who gave me training and this worked well. I also love the team work involved here and working with different departments, I’m in the finance department but I work with Sales, Service and IT departments daily and enjoy working across the company. For example, we sell photo copiers and to build those we have a software that goes on them, a lot of customers aren’t on the software, so we enable this to be fitted. As a task I drafted a letter t to send out to companies regarding the software and I also called businesses and spoke to the relevant software person, after collating the information I passed this over to Richard in our IT department which made the IT process of getting everyone on the software a much quicker process.
I honestly feel more mature and I see a big difference in myself in comparison to my friendship group, some of who are still in school and still have that school mentality, where as I feel I’m on a more professional level. I have also gained a lot about the knowledge of the background of businesses, the work that goes on behind the scenes of running a business. I’ve enjoyed being able to learn something with my IPS Trainer Lizzie and then take this to my manager to discuss and see how to put these skills into practice. Being able to evidence my work through my job role and learning first hand on the job really allows information to sink in and that’s so beneficial when learning new skills.
I’m enjoying the learning aspect of working with experienced colleagues and having a Trainer on hand. My Trainer Lizzie has also taught me about Safeguarding and I had to complete a Safeguarding awareness booklet which has the resources in it for potential issues in the workplace or Union issues and this was brilliant. Frankly, I don’t understand why it’s not covered in Schools as it’s important to know that if you do have a serious issue in the workplace what do you to, who to report to if you have a concern or what is right and wrong behaviours. My Trainer Lizzie is always flexible around my role, I can reschedule visit dates if needed and I know I can drop Lizzie a phone call or email if I have any questions in-between visits and she gets back to me. If I don’t want to progress with something until I have completed a unit, we move our meetings forward to go through it thoroughly and in terms of this and the level of communication it has been excellent. It’s also been great to have a supportive company who have allowed me to have time each week for my Apprenticeship work and revision.
I’ve recently started my Level 3 Apprenticeship and already it’s different from the Level 2 and one of the reasons is because the Level 2 was a framework and the Level 3 is an Apprenticeship Standard, this means I will need to be working on a portfolio throughout my programme and an End-Point Assessment will take place at the end of the programme which will be made up of an interview about my work. It was helpful that on my first visit for the Level 3, Lizzie explained the differences between both Apprenticeships and we sat down and spoke about the topics, the synoptic and the overview of what to expect, which was helpful rather than getting started straight away and feeling overwhelmed. I know the portfolio is a big piece of work to collect evidence, so we are working towards this now and we are doing this in stages over the coming 15 months of the programme, so it should be easily managed. I feel like my Apprenticeship has prepared me for the EPA Interview process as it’s given me so much confidence to now verbally talk about my role and when my company carry out 6-month reviews with us where we must verbally talk about our roles which will help. It’s also been helpful for me to have my colleague Jess who is now on the ACC to become a Chartered Accountant but did her first Accountancy Apprenticeship with IPS at Smart Solution and has progressed, so it’s great to have a kind of mentor and someone who has been through the same experience as me to offer guidance and support.
I love working here and my goal would be to become a fully qualified Chartered Accountant here at Smart Office Solution. If all dreams came true I would love my end goal to be a Finance Director of a brilliant company as a fully qualified Chartered Accountant, but my main next goal is to become a Chartered Accountant by the time I’m 24 and after this if I can push on and do more with this, that would be brilliant. I also like the idea of becoming a Forensic Accountant, that’s helping the police etc, the thing people don’t realise is that once you’re fully qualified there are so many pathways to go down and specialise in. I have spoken to Lizzie about preparing for the future and in fact my next task in my portfolio is researching the differences between ACC and CIMA so we’re already starting to prepare me for the future.
A lot of my friends went to University but I’m glad I took the Apprenticeship path as I feel some graduates struggle to get a job when they finish, whereas I’m already working and gaining work experience and life skills, I’m speaking to new customers clients, it’s very much like networking. If you’re thinking of going to University don’t forget to investigate Apprenticeships before you choose what to do as there are so many different Apprenticeships in so many industries now, so make sure you check and decide for you which the better path could be.
Michelle Larkin the Finance Manager at Smart Office Solution Ltd explains the benefits of an Apprentice from an employer perspective.
“Smart Office Solution Ltd encourages Apprenticeships as a way to employ young individuals who can help the company grow a strong workforce using our company policies, training & support received. Apprenticeships are kept updated with all the latest practices and valuable skills which helps a loyal and happy workforce. On-the-job training puts their knowledge and training into practice which increases productivity and efficiency. Smart Office finds that employing an Apprentice brings so much more to the company and will continue to welcome them into our company. “
We wish Oliver all the best in his Apprenticeship training.