Youth no obstacle to promotion after direct entry to profession
KIRSTY Yuill may never have been able to fulfil her dream of becoming an accountant. With the culture of the time generally requiring entrants into the profession to be graduates, she could well have found herself excluded. Like many other youngsters, Kirsty simply didn’t feel she was cut out for university and wasn’t sure that having a degree would serve any great purpose. But times have changed. She was welcomed into studying for the profession straight from school, works for a highly respected international practice, and is enjoying a career which is flourishing. At the age of just 22, she has just been promoted to a role as Senior Accountant in the Edinburgh office of RSM Tenon, working in the Professional Practices section servicing clients with specific needs such as GPs, surgeons and dentists. Kirsty points out that if she had been a graduate, she would only just now be starting out, with everything still to learn. “I went to school at Lenzie Academy and had always been interested in figures but didn’t want to do a business qualification,” she explains. “I had the opportunity to take a Higher in Accountancy, so I did – and I got an A pass in it. best practice to ensure change.
“For ACCA, the key is to ensure that those from disadvantaged backgrounds are as able to access the professions as those from more privileged backgrounds.
“We are firmly committed to ensuring fair access to accountancy and we welcome the coalition government’s focus on social mobility.
“We look forward to working with them and other professions through Professions for Good to move forward the social mobility agenda.” “I didn’t really enjoy school, and if I’d wanted to do a degree in accountancy, I’d have had to have gone into sixth year, then got grades to go to university, then graduate, and still have the accountancy exams afterwards.” Having just turned 17 – a year too young to sit ACCA exams – she left school and spent 18 months qualifying as a Certified Accounting Technician. That then allowed her to move on to the ACCA qualifications proper, with her previous experience and passes exempting her from three of the 14 exams. “I studied by myself at home for the Certified Accounting Technician exams, though I went to tuition classes for the ACCA exams.” Being determined, she wrote to all the accounting firms in Glasgow asking for work as a trainee. The result was a lot of interviews and, eventually, three job offers, including one from a small city practice, which she took. “That was great – they paid for my books while I was learning and it was a terrific experience.I was really glad I did the Certified Accounting Technician qualification first as I’d really have struggled to go straight to the ACCA exams, which were a huge step up.” She moved to a much bigger firm, RSM Tenon, when she was part qualified. “I wanted more experience and as a top 10 company, they had a lot to offer me and gave me a chance to work with different sectors and clients.” Kirsty finally qualified as a Chartered Certified Accountant with ACCA a year ago. “It shows that you don’t need to go through university to be an accountant. Of course, having a degree is a wonderful thing and we do take on graduates every year, but it wasn’t for me. “Starting as a school leaver gives you invaluable experience and you learn everything. It meant a lot of hard work and weekends studying but for me, it was definitely the way to go.”
ACCA is determined to be an exemplar in this area. As well as being a member of Professions for Good, it is working on a Social Mobility Toolkit, which is advocated by the organisation as a way of monitoring progress on this issue within the strict parameters of data collection rules and regulations.
ACCA’s ongoing work on social mobility was also highlighted as an example of best practice in action by the Access to Professions Panel report published by the Cabinet Office in 2009.