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Career Options in Banking, Finance & Accountancy: School Leaver

The banking, finance and accountancy is the jackpot as far as school leaver opportunities are concerned. This sector pioneers the school leaver job market. There’s something for everyone, school leavers and graduates alike.

School leaver opportunities in banking, finance and accountancy

- Insight days

- Work experience

- Intermediate Apprenticeships

- Advanced Apprenticeships

- Higher Apprenticeships

- School Leaver Programmes

- Sponsored Degrees

Yes, the number of options and potential schemes open to you are longer than the Game of Thrones cast list, that’s for sure.

If you’re undecided as yet as to exactly which area of business, finance or accountancy you’d like to get stuck into, you could apply for a place on an insight day. These days are usually run by big accountancy firms like BDO and the Big Four professional accountancy firms (PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG). They’ll give you the change to learn more about school leaver programme areas open to you and provide some wise words on how to apply for a higher apprenticeship or graduate scheme.

Some retail banks also offer school leavers the chance to take up some work experience to discover more about the industry, get a feel for the work and see if it’s for them. Intermediate apprenticeships and advanced apprenticeships in this sector are also predominantly in retail banking, offering the chance to work in a contact centre (customer services), a branch or in operations. These apprenticeships offer training and support, as well as the chance to study for a professional qualifications in the industry

Areas you could explore with a school leaver programme option include: audit, tax, technology, HR, finance, customer services business support. Each one of these programmes will also includes a professional qualification such as the AAT, ATT or ACCA which could lead to chartered status a little further down the line. These programmes give you plenty of scope for your future career, from international roles to great salary opportunities.

Setting the school leaver record straight

The odds are that you have a couple of friends who do enjoy getting up on their high horse to tell you that an apprenticeship simply isn’t as good an option as the traditional university route. Parents unfortunately may not always be fully aware of all the options available to you either, and so don’t always have the best idea about what’s the best choice for you overall. The decisions are up to you!

The fact is that a banking, finance or accountancy apprenticeship or school leaver programme is a completely viable alternative to university. They’re fresh, they’re standardised, they’re paid (!) and they are huge features for top firms in banking, finance and accountancy looking for their future company leaders.

At the end of a higher apprenticeship or school leaver programme, you will still be at the same level as a mate who has taken the long and winding road of university. Plus, you’ll have a good couple of years of work experience with a respected (in some cases global) employer, an internationally recognised industry qualification and  money in your pocket – things peers from the university path will find hard to match. So trot on, high horse…

Formal education: Should I stay or should I go?

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer. It comes down to what you think suits you.

Intermediate and advanced apprenticeships in this sector will be available to you once you have your GCSEs in the bag (at least a C in English and maths is usually necessary). If you’re keen to develop a career in retail banking, perhaps in customer services of providing advice and financial services to customers, then this will be what you need to get started if you choose to leave at 16. These options can lead to more senior roles in the company as you progress, and it’s not unheard of for retail banking apprentices to make it to branch manager positions in the long run, or even cross over into private banking.

If you choose to stay on a little longer to obtain some A-levels, Scottish Highers, or the equivalent, you could also apply for Higher Apprenticeships, School Leaver Programmes and Sponsored Degrees. There is a slightly wider range of industry areas available with these options, such as accounting, technology roles, audit and tax specialisms, advisory and consultancy services and corporate finance. A couple more years of study could give you a shot at these paying, career developing schemes straight out of the school door.

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