Advice for my 15 year old regarding his future career

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columbia
columbia Registered Posts: 580 Epic contributor 🐘
Hi all

Hope you are enjoying this wonderful bank holiday weekend (again!).

My son will be leaving school next year. He is very bright and capable, and should get high marks in his GCSE's.

He is contemplating starting the AAT qualification in September via home study.

I suppose what I am after is some general advice possibly from younger members who have experienced the current job markets (although naturally any advice will be greatly received). Should I advise him to complete his GCSE's and go to college to study the AAT, or to go on and do A levels then to University, or to look at finding an accounting job which would also help pay towards his studies.

When I first had children I was determined to send them to University, as I thought it would set them up for the future, but now I worry that in doing so he may end up a few years behind others seeking similar work.

I know this is a bit early to be considering this, but it would be helpful to have other peoples opinions/experience in anything similar.

Many thanks

Comments

  • SandyHood
    SandyHood Registered, Moderator Posts: 2,034 mod
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    I'm far too old to be the target reader here, but I am interested too.

    I have had an impression that a lot of undergraduate degrees are not being respected by employers. This impression is made up of
    1. criticism of internally set and marked exams by the university lecturers (suggesting that passing exams doesn't require the level of preparation needed for externally set exams)
    2. criticism employers have made when graduates start work, and are not able to do the tasks they are given.

    I don't have any more than anicdotal evidence, so I would be very interested to know whether I have had an impression that is not widespread and just examples. If the anicdotal evidence is true, it is very worrying as it ultimately undermines the idea of going to university to improve job prospects.
    Sandy
    sandy@sandyhood.com
    www.sandyhood.com
  • columbia
    columbia Registered Posts: 580 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Thanks Sandy

    This is the worry that I have about him choosing university. Also with the job market as it is at the moment I wouldn't want him to get further behind in his chosen career.

    I appreciate that hopefully things will pick up over the next few years so he may not find himself in a situation where jobs are few and far between, but I am interested in hearing what other people have to say on this topic.

    Thanks again

    Tracy
  • Rinske
    Rinske Registered Posts: 2,453 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Could your son do A levels and then AAT and possibly get some exemptions?

    If he does decide accountancy is not for him, he has a better base with some A levels behind him for swapping later in life.

    I don't know what the right way is, but focussing from GCSE's to accountancy only does seem to make it harder to swap later in life.
  • guinea pig
    guinea pig Registered Posts: 402 Dedicated contributor 🦉
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    Further to the reply from Rinske, could he do A levels, including one in Accountancy? This would give him a taste for accountancy, and probably some exemptions for the AAT, without limiting his choices at such a young age. Check with the AAT how this could work. In two years time the job versus university situation could be quite different to now.
    Good luck with finding the right route.
    GP
  • columbia
    columbia Registered Posts: 580 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Thanks Rinske

    Yes, I suppose I hadn't thought of it quite like that so you have given food for thought.

    I think he will decide to persue accounting as a career though, as he has shown a lot of interest in my studies, he has a very quick analytical mind and has always excelled at maths (he puts me to shame!!).

    Also he has helped me out when I have been self employed, albeit entering information onto sage under my guidance for a family friend, but he really enjoyed it.

    I know it is too soon to make final decisions but any answers help in thinking up scenarios we hadn't yet thought of.

    Perhaps A Levels and AAT would give him a better start in his working life.

    Thanks again
  • columbia
    columbia Registered Posts: 580 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Thanks Guinea Pig,

    Sorry I had replied to Rinske whilst you were typing.

    Yes I agree the climate could be completely different by the time he is looking for work, especially if he decides to do A levels after GCSE's.

    I am just trying to be a good parent and equip him with as much information as possible so that he can make up his own mind as to how to continue his education to give him the best opportunities.

    Thanks

    Tracy
  • NeilH
    NeilH Registered Posts: 553 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Hi

    I think there are pros and cons to each side, but the main "con" often given against uni is the cost!

    I've seen only a few jobs that ask for a qualified and experienced accountant who is also a graduate, but I have met/worked with several accountants who entered the profession through graduate training schemes (some with relevant, some with non-relevant degrees). The training provision on these schemes (particularly in practice) was brilliant in terms of study support. Some practices offer AAT to chartered routes also, though the there seem to be fewer AAT training vacancies than there are graduate ones - but it depends on the practice, what size of firm etc. Also, the AAT school leaver vacancies I've seen tend to require A-Levels.

    I didn't do the uni thing but I did do a few years of full-time college after GCSEs and there are "non-career" factors to consider too. I found my full-time courses fulfilling personally - got to meet new people, was a more relaxed environment than going straight to work etc, got to grow up more steadily and just generally enjoyed my time. It also gave the chance to decide/reflect on what I wanted to do and how to go about doing it. Generally, going to college full-time was in itself a positive experience and is something that can be difficult to go back and do later in life.

    Neil
  • Gem7321
    Gem7321 Registered Posts: 1,438 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    This sounds like me nearly 6 years ago!

    I decided I wanted to be an accountant, and before I had even finished my GCSEs I sent my CV with my predicted GCSE grades to local (and not so local) practices enquiring about any vacancies for an AAT trainee. I did this all summer and enrolled at college as well just in case I didn't get a position. I decided if I didn't get a position I may as well at least do my AS Levels then try again in the summer.

    September came and I had no news, so off to college I went. After 1 week I had a letter from a practice I had written to at the beginning of summer asking me to go for an interview. The next day I had a phone call asking if I could go for a second interview and skills test. A week later I had a phone call asking when could I start, and I said tomorrow, packed up my college stuff (funnily enough I was in my Accounting class and I loved the jealous looks I got!) and left. And I've never looked back.

    What I'm saying is, it doesn't hurt to ask, does it? And I think practice is probably the best way to go for a school-leaver as they normally always run recruitment packages in the summer specifically for school-leavers and graduates.

    My younger brother was at a bit of a loss with what to do when he finished school and wasn't sure whether college was for him. He went to college but didn't really enjoy it, got pretty terrible AS results so decided to apply for AAT trainee positions the same as me and has now got a job at a small practice (across the road from my first!) and regrets wasting a year at college. He starts AAT this September.
  • columbia
    columbia Registered Posts: 580 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Thanks NeilH and Gem

    Once again your own experiences have been interesting to read about. I don't want James to have to worry about the expense of University, although we are willing to put him through should he so choose.

    It seems as if James' best course of action after GCSE's would be to get his A Levels and his AAT qualification, then look at finding an accounting position who would be willing to fund further studies ie ACCA or CIMA. Although in Gems case it paid to contact companies prior to leaving school, and it paid off for her - well done Gem!

    I understand the point raised earlier that the A levels would give him entry into other career paths should he later decide that accountancy is no longer his chosen field. I like the point Neil raised about going to college, in that it allowed him to grow up more steadily.

    I know that this is not my decision, he will ultimately make his own choices, rightly or wrongly, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

    Thanks guys
  • Gem7321
    Gem7321 Registered Posts: 1,438 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Glad to help! There are just so many routes to take, it's a case of him choosing the best route for him and it will be good for him to have all the information.
  • SandyHood
    SandyHood Registered, Moderator Posts: 2,034 mod
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    It is interesting that your thread appeared on a bank holiday.
    I've been chatting to some people I've known over my career and had a further idea.

    The top practices recruit only graduates, but do not particularly seek accountancy graduates. Degrees in history, maths etc.; all are welcome. They look for the cream of the graduates from the top universities.

    If your son seeks the top level work, it might be worth him following a degree somewhere such as Imperial College London, Bristol Uni, Durham or Oxbridge. If he chooses, he could do a little accounting alongside his more academic studies. In his final year, he would then seek a trainee position with one of the big firms. If he then succeeds he will be near the top of the profession.

    I see people at regional teacher meetings for AAT and for CIMA and I've heard the comments those from BPP and Kaplan have said regarding the high flyers from Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, Deloitte & Touche, Andersen, Ernst & Young and KPMG. They pick up knowledge very quickly indeed, so can master the subject and pass their exams and move up the organisation.
    And from the employer's perspective they are very valuable.
    Sandy
    sandy@sandyhood.com
    www.sandyhood.com
  • columbia
    columbia Registered Posts: 580 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Thank you Sandy

    That is most enlightening. I assumed that they would chose students with accounting degrees, so it is interesting to see that they look for graduates who have done the best regardless of the subject studied.

    James is excelling in triple science, maths and french at the moment, and A*'s are hopefully within his grasp.

    There is a lot for him to consider, and I wanted him to be as informed as possible even though the decision is a year away.

    I never went to Uni, I waited until I was married with 3 children before starting to study the AAT, so I want my children to have the opportunities I didn't have/take, so that they can have the best start in life.

    I have welcomed all of your opinions, each of them valid and as important as the next.

    Lot's for him to think about.

    Thanks
  • NeilH
    NeilH Registered Posts: 553 Epic contributor 🐘
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    columbia wrote: »
    That is most enlightening. I assumed that they would chose students with accounting degrees, so it is interesting to see that they look for graduates who have done the best regardless of the subject studied.

    One of the best accountants I've ever worked with trained on a graduate programme (ICAEW/ACA with a top 50 firm) and their degree was in history. I believe I heard a statistic a few years ago that said 50% of graduates on accountancy graduate schemes have non-relevant degrees.

    If I had my time over again, I would probably give good consideration to uni in a non-relevant and broadly applicable subject - employers who value graduates often value the level/type of education rather than the subject. But then my time from GCSE to A-levels to uni would have meant free tuition and even grants!

    Neil
  • janwal
    janwal Registered Posts: 1,189 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    Hi Columbia

    I don't know whether your local colleges offer the same as ours but up here they are running apprenticeship courses, they get to work in accountacncy jobs with a small wage but can also do the training they need, may be worth enquiring about.

    Hope he does well in his exams!

    Jan
  • columbia
    columbia Registered Posts: 580 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Thanks guys

    Janwal, I did not know that but I will enquire as our local college is only a few minutes walk away, and it will be something else that I have researched for him.

    Cheers you have all been very helpful :-)
  • NeilH
    NeilH Registered Posts: 553 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Hi

    If he does decide to go to uni and takes a relevant degree, take into account any exemptions the degree will grant from a chartered qualification. You can search the exemption details on the ACCA and CIMA websites, but ICAEW don't seem to have this facility.

    However, keep in mind that some employers may not want their trainees to take exemptions - i've heard of this in some practices.

    Neil
  • columbia
    columbia Registered Posts: 580 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Thanks Neil

    I will look into this also!

    Tracy
  • Chinless Wonder
    Chinless Wonder Registered Posts: 61 Regular contributor ⭐
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    Hi Columbia.

    I went straight from school to uni and studied maths. It was my favourite subject (although I was also good at other subjects). A lot of my uni classmates went on to be teachers or (shudder) accountants. That did not interest me, so I continued my part time student job on a full time basis. That led to a 8-year career as an arts venue manager. I sidestepped into theatre administration, then finance. The rest is history - now training for CIMA in my late 30s and hope I never run into any of my "boring" uni classmates.

    I never regret going to uni as it opened up so many possibilities, but for me it wasn't so much what I studied that was important, it was the work experience (and other stuff eg running student clubs&societies, etc) that helped me actually get into the workplace. A degree is worthless without it, but I think a degree is still good to have. I am immensely proud of throwing my BSC hons into conversation. It's not something I use day to day - but it does at least prove my numeracy and that I have at some point in my life been intelligent!

    The converse, one of my CIMA teachers went straight into ACCA training from school (working in an firm of accountants) - she qualified at 22, has had a great career in industry and now she's teaching me! I now do feel slightly jealous that she has not wasted any time - however I couldn't have followed that path as it wouldn't have been right for me at the time.

    I'd say - if he feels ready to join the "real world" and has interest and enthusiasm for the dark arts of accountancy- he should think about working in practice and doing AAT or even ACCA or CIMA. If he's still trying to work out who he is (and all that stuff), college or uni might help steer him on the right path (and could offer a wider range of classes & experiences).

    Or even a bit of both - part time work, part time training. As long as he stays sane inside insanity and doesn't lock the door and throw away the key! ;-)
  • Chinless Wonder
    Chinless Wonder Registered Posts: 61 Regular contributor ⭐
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    Having just read what I posted...
    I hope I never run into any of my "boring" uni classmates.
    ...because they'll laugh at me for not doing accountancy sooner....not cause they're boring (though they were)
    it does at least prove my numeracy and that I have at some point in my life been intelligent!
    ... not that I'm saying you have to have a degree to be intelligent cos that is not true in the least!!
  • Rinske
    Rinske Registered Posts: 2,453 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    ...because they'll laugh at me for not doing accountancy sooner....not cause they're boring (though they were)

    I'm sure they won't laugh at you, as you got the whole experience of living multiple careers, I really think its a good thing!
    Not that having only one career and sticking with it is bad, but it's nice to see more sides of the medaillon before choosing!
    ... not that I'm saying you have to have a degree to be intelligent cos that is not true in the least!!

    At least you got some proof! I'm still looking for it!



    Anyways, on topic, I think you got quite some bits to consider for your son, and yes it will boil down to what is right for him. He will need to find his own way in life, but some advice is really helpful, so don't forget to help him.

    As for the rest, don't push him in a direction if he wants to take another (unless he all of a sudden decides to be a stalker for a hobby, which you might want to discourage), but do give him the different options to consider!

    Anyways, I'm not a parent, I just know how my parents were and how I rebelled against things. Nothing has changed in that tho. When my mum suggested I maybe should pick up studying I said no, and half a year later I came to the same conclusion and started studying again...
  • columbia
    columbia Registered Posts: 580 Epic contributor 🐘
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    Chinless Wonder and Rinske, thanks guys you made me laugh!!

    It just goes to show that what is right for one person is not necessarily so for someone else.

    I don't intend to push him into doing something he doesn't want to do, and I will support him whatever he decides. And he has a longtime ahead of him to sort himself out.

    I came from a poor background and got a job in a shop just so that I could earn some money to buy clothes/records etc (god I sound old!!).

    I wish my parents had told me to stay on in education, but they didn't as they were happy if I was happy. I have no real regrets as my journey has taken me to where I am now, which is working for a great charity with a fabulous lakeside view and part-time hours, I am a happy bunny!

    I just want my son to be as well informed as possible, and to know that there are many different routes to getting where he wants to get. It's also reasurring to know that even if he makes the wrong choice, he can still succeed.

    Thanks again everyone.
  • Bluewednesday
    Bluewednesday Registered Posts: 1,624 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
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    columbia wrote: »
    I got a job in a shop just so that I could earn some money to buy clothes/records etc (god I sound old!!).

    I know what you mean, my first job was selling those records (or big black CD's as my children think of them)!!
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