T levels and ACCA — a new route to work

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When people think of accounting, they probably think about numbers or that you need to ‘love’ maths.

Yet due to digital and technological advances and a shift in scope of an accountant’s responsibilities and tasks, while a comfortability with numbers is of course essential, there is a lot less time spent focussing on calculations than you might think. There is in fact more time given to understanding your clients and helping businesses grow, thereby making a valuable contribution to the economy and society.

Working in accounting means speaking the global language of finance. Accountants work all over the world in every industry, whether it’s social media, Formula One, sustainable fashion, esports, e-commerce, non-governmental organisations, and the biggest multinationals to local businesses.

In fact, local businesses and accounting practices are a great way to begin a career in finance, especially considering they’re crying out for talent straight out of school, with the right attitude and willingness to learn.

This is where a new ACCA-backed education initiative, T levels, come into play.

T for technical

T levels – the ‘T’ stands for technical – are a qualification aimed at 16-19 year olds to prepare them for the workforce. You will learn the concepts and specialist skills required for your chosen profession, such as accountancy, as well as about the industries and sectors in which you can operate.

Designed in conjunction with leading businesses and employers, T levels are two-year courses that involve a mix of study and work experience. They’re equivalent to three A levels in size and level, with a heavy focus on the technical aspects of the chosen professional pathway.

The accounting T level has been created with employability in mind and ACCA has worked with a group of cross-industry employers to shape the content to be relevant and robust. This has allowed us to define the skills and knowledge – both technical and soft – employers deem essential for their current and future capabilities.

And as mentioned, the profession is being greatly influenced by modern technology, which is why students who undertake the accounting T level will pick up either a Sage or Quickbooks certificate as part of their qualification, giving you a headstart with some of the most popular accounting software in use today.

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A smooth transition into the workforce

But perhaps where T levels really stand out is the considerable work placement element, which creates a smooth transition from education into work. This nurtures maturity, work readiness, an entrepreneurial spirit and skills that are transferable fluidly between life and work.

For people interested in a career in accountancy and finance, work placements can be spent with a local accountancy practice or in the finance department of a business. After completing an accounting T level, you might decide to continue the globally recognised ACCA Qualification to attain full membership, which you could do as a trainee with an employer, who might even provide financial and study support.

And forget the one or two week work experience you might have done during GCSEs or summer holidays, these placements are a minimum 315 hours or 45 days, and can be spent in a block, day release or a mix, with one employer or shared between two

T levels are designed so that you get meaningfully involved with the day-to-day workings of a business. It’s a chance to apply what you learn in the classroom in the real world, to get a taste of the kind of career paths and specialisms open to you, and to start growing your ever-important network.

And while a T level is a nationally-recognised qualification that is worth the same number of UCAS points as three A levels and accepted by universities, T levels pave the way to smooth transitions to employment, should university not appeal.

Here’s what some T level students have to say:

Chloe at HSDC

I chose my T Level because I liked the fact that they involve work experience, which A levels do not. This will give me a real insight into the world of work.

Keiran at Thorpe St Andrew 6th Form

If someone were to ask me if they should do the T Level, I’d say definitely, definitely go for it. Because the work placement is going to give you the extra boost when it comes to getting a job.

For more information see ACCA's T Level brochure here

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