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Why you should take on an apprentice

25th May 2018
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Della Hudson explains why apprentices are good for your business, in spite of the paperwork.

My first employee was an apprentice. I had waivered between a part time qualified accountant who would hit the ground running and a full time apprentice whom I would have to train but who could be trained exactly the way I wanted to do things.

Taking on an apprentice allowed me to pay a lower salary initially and, although I hated doing this, it was the only way that I could afford to grow my business.

I could also afford to set aside 12 months salary for the apprentice in my deposit account, to ensure that I would have enough to at least train him through one year of AAT.

Good fit

Accountancy training has traditionally followed a mixture of theory and in-house training so the apprentice scheme is ideally suited to our profession. AAT courses are widely available and the college may even be able to help you with recruitment.

The employer is mainly expected to:

  • pay for any college training which is not covered by grants
  • allow the individual a day off work per week to study
  • pay the apprentice for five days a week
  • provide relevant on the job training and report on this to the apprenticeship provider

We have always had great success with our apprentices as they are keen to learn. We are able to pick the right person who has a client service mentality, and then add on the technical accountancy.


Under the apprentice scheme there was plenty of paperwork and, with subsequent apprentices, this has increased threefold. Last year I filled in three sets of almost identical paperwork and my apprentice filled in even more. I even considered paying the college fees myself to save the hassle.

For the first apprentice the college came and helped me with the paperwork to enrol him on the course and to part fund this (as he was over 18) and also to apply for a one-off grant which I put towards a desk, chair, laptop and software licences.

Support for employer

I was disappointed in the lack of support from the various training organisations when it came to recruiting an apprentice. You are very much on your own with this. For our first apprentice I tried to get in touch with the National Apprenticeship Service.

As I knew nothing before taking on my first apprentice there was all sorts of support that I needed but, in spite of several calls, emails and requests for information I never received a response from our local representative. Hopefully this has improved since then but, four apprentices later, I now know what I’m doing.

Working with colleges

The support from the colleges is variable and one that we used was particularly helpful (our apprentices choose their own college/course).

However, none of our colleges sent results or reports directly to the employer, so there is no official way of knowing how your apprentice is doing academically or even if they’ve turned up at college.

By contrast there are lots of reports for the employer and apprentice to send to the college about on the job training and experience.


On the plus side we found that having a trainee gave us lots to tell our clients about in our monthly e-news and on social media.

The AAT structure means that, every month or so, they are passing exams and as the “selfie generation” they are often happy to pose for PR photographs, which helps us to promote our firm as a modern, forward looking business with happy staff.

The young are our future

If we can appeal to a younger audience then we can attract younger clients, which will make the business more sustainable with a prospect of continuing to another generation.

I would highly recommend looking into apprenticeships, even for a small firm. It is an opportunity to help youngsters, as well as to train the accountant that you want.

Replies (4)

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By rememberscarborough
01st Jun 2018 12:07

Young apprentices appeal to young clients? Does that mean old accountants appeal to old clients? Do women accountants appeal more to women clients (or god forbid vice versa)?

Discrimination in all its forms is stupid and, more importantly for us accountants, uneconomic. I look forward to the utopia where everyone is judged on ability and nothing else.

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Hunter Renard
By Rehan51
03rd Jul 2018 14:25

Hello. Thank you for the article.
Should I take a student to work or not? The question is almost like Shakespeare's). Of course to take. Yes, the student will receive less. But while he is studying - he is not the main thing. The main thing is to have time to write essays and research papers, successfully pass exams and of course find time and work.
After all, a student worker is a great opportunity that is called "grow by yourself" specialist, that is, to teach him everything from the beginning, and not to retrain already finished.
A student also has a plus - their first self-earned money ...

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By olezhkayo
10th Feb 2020 08:34

cambodian brides are somewhat diverse in character and conduct than European or American women. If you usually are thinking of locating a Cambodian woman to marry, you should study in fine detail the peculiarities of these kinds of women's mentality.

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By GregoryStellar
02nd Nov 2021 11:22

It is impossible to work efficiently without assistants! It's like plastic surgery cosmetic surgery is impossible without an operating table!

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