This year’s National Apprenticeship Week (which takes place from 8th to 14th February 2021), aims to recognise and celebrate how employers, apprentices and training providers have stepped up to the challenge during this unprecedented time. Lauren Milward, a Professional Accounting Technician apprentice working at Barringtons, explains what it’s been like starting her Accountancy apprenticeship during COVID-19.
What apprenticeship are you completing? What are your day-to-day tasks?
I am currently completing the level 4 Accountancy apprenticeship at Barringtons Accountants in Newcastle-under-Lyme. This apprenticeship has helped me build the foundations to my accountancy knowledge by placing me at the centre of practical work. My day-to-day tasks currently are very varied to ensure I am able to gain all-round knowledge of the accounting industry. However, my most common job refers to checking client documents to ensure we have each required document, which then develops into starting the accounts job by uploading and reconciling the bank alongside producing the first accounts on the working papers. I also have begun looking into VAT returns, where each financial document must be considered and uploaded. Each document can then be analysed in regard to tax.
How has COVID-19 effected your apprenticeship experience?
COVID-19 has hugely impacted my apprenticeship experience, which I always expected. As a result of COVID-19, there has been a heavy emphasis on working from home, whether this is college work or practical work. From a college perspective, online lectures are the main source of learning which, due to technology, can be challenging. However, I believe the same support is provided as the lectures are still interactive and questions can still be answered in the same way. In regard to work, a large number of colleagues work from home, however as a result of Teams each colleague can be easily contacted, and each team member is willing and able to assist in any queries I have.
How has the training helped to build your skills? Please give examples.
An apprenticeship was a route I have always thought will be best suited to me, due to the basis on practical and academic knowledge being developed at the same time. This has helped me build my skills in a variety of ways. A main skill developed was my knowledge regarding accounting and accounting practices, this training has provided me with insight into the daily tasks and requirements an accountant should conduct. Practical accounting knowledge has also been developed as a result of the training due to providing me with a stronger knowledge as to how each task should be performed, therefore allowing me to become more confident in this area. Another skill deemed highly important in the accounting field is accuracy. The training provided has highlighted this importance allowing me to focus on this area to ensure each piece of information I process can be entered accurately to avoid any potential errors.
How do you think apprenticeships are helping businesses to succeed during this difficult time?
I believe apprenticeships are helping businesses to succeed during this difficult time by providing training to apprentices now, which will benefit them in the future.
What progression opportunities do you have now because of your accountancy apprenticeship training?
As a result of the apprenticeship training, I believe a number of progression opportunities are available within the company, which will help me develop throughout my accountancy career.
How has your apprenticeship helped you to adapt, grow and build during a difficult year?
Beginning an apprenticeship in this difficult time has helped me to adapt and grow a significant amount during this difficult year. Beginning a new job is usually challenging as you have to quickly adapt to how the business operates. However, with the added changes as a result of COVID-19, this has allowed me to grow by being placed in a fast-moving business environment. Being placed in this environment allowed me to enhance my communication skills. As many colleagues were working from home, this meant that effective communication was more vital to ensure efficiency.
Would you consider recommending apprenticeships to others? If so, why?
I would recommend apprenticeships to others because it provides a whole view on the industry you are about to enter. Learning both the practical side to the job, alongside academic will provide a rounded view rather than just having knowledge on one side.
Do you have any other comments to support National Apprenticeship Week 2021?
I am currently at the beginning of my accountancy career; however, I believe that doing this through an apprenticeship was the best route to take as a result of the rounded perspective of a working environment and education.