As the UK enters an unprecedented era of change, businesses are seeking ways to remain globally competitive.
One key factor in a post-Brexit economy will be the need for reliable financial advice and information, with accountancy professionals set to be at the forefront to seize opportunities that emerge.
However, following the financial crisis and seeing the skill-shortage vacancies in the financial sector double over the past few years, we know accountancy is continuing to report difficulty in attracting suitable staff.
We need to ensure the UK has a strong skills base for economic growth and prosperity, which is at the heart of government’s skills policy and is seen as a key driver of improving the UK’s productivity.
Giving employers greater control
Following on from the launch of the Industrial Strategy and recognition for the need for home-grown talent to contribute to economic growth, the government is placing particular onus on the country’s skills shortages and missed opportunities for career development.
It's calling for closer strategic partnerships with employers to deliver the skills and talent UK businesses need, and to widen access to professions.
In England, the government has made a significant move within policy towards employer-led initiatives such as Trailblazer apprenticeships, giving employers more control over shaping the delivery and content of apprenticeship training.
ACCA has long been involved in the development of standards for both Accounting Technician and Professional Accountant Apprenticeships. As this is a devolved responsibility other parts of the UK are implementing separate apprenticeship offerings and ACCA fully supports these too.
Widening access to accountancy with funded apprenticeships
Along with the introduction of T Levels in England, apprenticeships offer an excellent route to gaining the required qualifications and skills for industry.
We need to widen access to our profession but employers need help to recognise the value of a range of educational routes into business, and create demand for people with other qualifications such as apprenticeships.
Here at ACCA, we know young people also need to be given better and more consistent exposure to employers and the workplace through their education.
Limited access to employers means that young people often have to make decisions about their futures with little information. We're dedicated to engaging with students using our members to inform them of the benefits of accountancy careers. This enables successful ACCA finance professionals to share their career experience with ambitious young people.
We also understand the barriers as businesses adjust to the levy funding. However we believe this is an opportune time for SMEs to use the funding to compete with larger firms for the best talent.
We're actively encouraging all businesses to invest in cost effective apprenticeship programmes. Employers of all sizes can give young people training opportunities, develop their softer skills, and shape the next generation of business leaders.