Should trainees be swotting in their own time?by
As thousands of students across the UK gear up for their exams, how much time off should firms give trainees to study?
Studying for exams while holding down a position within a firm can make for a heady cocktail of stress for young accountants looking to enter the profession. And while allowances are usually made for those studying, many students can find themselves cramming during the evenings or weekends in preparation for exams.
However, in a recent post on Any Answers, one member posed a question that got many in the community talking about how much time off students really need to ensure success. “We have staff studying AAT level 3 and 4, and ACCA level 2. All are on day release (some in college, some online). In addition to the day release and day off for the exam, how many days is reasonable to give off for pre-exam swotting/mock exams?” asked kevinringer.
In your own time
The question sparked debate and nostalgia in equal measure as the community offered their thoughts and experiences on what is deemed acceptable time to be put aside for studies.
“Absolutely none! If they really want to achieve, it should be in their own time. Time off to sit the exams only,” wrote turchyna582.
User Viciuno held a similar opinion, recalling that their employers had offered no extra time off to prepare for their course. “If you are relying on one day of study leave to pass, you are probably going to fail anyway. You need to spend weeks/months studying in your spare time,” Viciuno wrote.
Others however, took a different approach to their staff’s learning, with some offering a more flexible plan for aspiring accountants on their teams.
“We’ve a staff member who will take his final CTA exams next month and we’ve given him 10 days on full pay. We want him to pass,” wrote mbee1, adding that “if he passes, he’ll get a decent pay rise.”
Others looked back at their own training experiences, remembering how their professional bodies supported their studies.
“I seem to remember that we had at least four weeks at financial training, all paid from 1974–78,” recalled carnmores.
ACCA-certified Hazel Accounts recalled a similar experience, writing: “I did ACCA (quite a long time ago now) and the standard thing then seemed to be one week per paper.”
Focus on flexibility
For Accounting Excellence award nominee Max Whiteley, associate director at Accounts and Legal, supporting staff with their educational requirements has become a key tenet of his firm. He acknowledged how difficult it can be “spinning plates” working full time while studying for exams.
“All our trainees are given full days off for college and exams, and we integrate the syllabus into their appraisals, making sure we back up the theory with real-life examples where it can be applied to clients,” Whiteley continued.
Yet, Whiteley also noted that, as each person works differently, a focus on flexibility has been paramount in ensuring success among his trainees, offering bespoke support to his developing team.
“For us flexibility is the name of the game. We offer an option for a four-day work week for all staff, so trainees can use the day off as a study day instead of cramming the work into their evenings.
“It really depends on the individual, but we believe that giving trainees the flexibility and time to study alongside their day job is incredibly important. After all, we’ve all been there ourselves!”
Should firms offer trainee staff more flexibility to study? Or, should revising be done on their own time? Let us know in the comments below.