We launched the BT school leaver Finance Apprenticeship Scheme in 2012 and our first intake was 6 apprentices in London in September of that year. We have recruited every year since and expanded the scheme to Bristol. We currently have 27 finance apprentices progressing through our scheme with at least 9 additional hires planned this year.
Apprentices go into full-time finance roles to gain a range of experience in financial and management accounting. Over a 3 to 4 year period, they will be equipped with all of the experience and skills to meet the practical experience requirements (PER) for CIMA membership and to achieve full qualification as an ACMA CGMA.
It is not unusual for an apprentice, within the first 18 months, to have responsibility for reporting on financial management of a multi-million pound budget for one or more of our business units and to help the operational and finance teams to monitor spend, investigate variances and assist in decision support. Experience and responsibility builds constantly throughout the apprenticeship meaning that on completion they are fully capable of tackling a range of roles at Finance Analyst or Finance Manager level.
In addition to the day to day guidance of each of the line managers to whom our apprentices report, BT provides:
- An induction program on joining BT including presentations from, and introductions to, CIMA and BPP as well as understanding the role of finance and the breadth of our operations globally.
- Study materials and training through our preferred training partner BPP supporting them throughout their qualification journey.
- A buddy appointed for each new apprentice to help guide them.
- Rotations to further finance roles after 18 months and annually thereafter to extend the apprentices’ experience of BT and of differing finance tasks.
- Activities and learning opportunities through BT’s established Apprentices Network which includes apprentices from across all function in BT including apprentices in engineering, technology and security, serving to grow their understanding of our complex business.
- Along with all of BTs finance community, access to learning tools for the finance profession through the BT Academy addressing technical and soft skills.
- Mentoring and work shadowing opportunities with senior finance leaders in BT including with the Group CFO.
- All this is backed up by a framework of support combing the skills and expertise of our apprenticeship teams, HR and Finance.
What benefits does BT see in the higher apprenticeship in management accounting?
The Finance Apprenticeship scheme is one of many that BT offers, each of which yields a number of benefits for BT and for the apprentices themselves. Skilled management accountants are always in high demand in our business and growing our own future talent through the apprenticeship forms an important plank in our overall talent strategy.
We are keen to promote inclusion and opportunity, our scheme launched in 2012 and was in part a response to the increase in university fees which we felt could act as a barrier to many young and very capable people entering the profession and achieving their potential, this allows us to give something back. The capability and enthusiasm of our apprentices has become recognised across the finance community and has helped to confirm that strong ability and innovative ideas are not constrained by youth or relative inexperience.
Finally, the youth and diversity, both in terms of ethnicity and gender – help us to reflect all of the customers we serve.
What future do you see for the apprentices within your organisation once they have completed their apprenticeship?
Our Apprentices are employed on permanent/continuing contracts from the outset and we are committed to ensuring that their rapid progress through the CIMA exams is matched by further opportunities once they have attained the coveted ACMA CGMA designation.
Three of our first joiners from 2012 are ‘graduating’ from the apprenticeship as fully qualified management accountants and have won roles as Finance Analysts or Finance Managers within BT. We are delighted to have developed a leadership and career development programme for them, launching in May 2016, called the Future Finance managers programme. This programme has been designed to build upon the outstanding technical skills they have gained through their study at BPP to gain their qualification and prepare them for the future by starting to develop their leadership skills – the skills needed to ensure that they always stand out from the crowd and are equipped for taking up more senior roles in BT.
What would you say to another employer who is maybe considering taking on an apprentice?
I would encourage any employer to get involved, apprentices can be a great source of future finance talent. You will be opening a door to them which will very likely lead to a long and successful career in a profession which we all know to be challenging and satisfying in equal measure. It also gives something back to society in terms of creating an opportunity to talented people for whom university may not be an option.
|Find out more about the success of BT’s Finance Apprentice Scheme
Ashik, one of the UK’s youngest Chartered Global Management Accountants.
Tejinder, manages a 60 million pound budget as a management accounting apprentice at BT.
BT Group are a CIMA Premier Partner and as part of their accreditation, have committed to supporting and investing in the initial training and continued development of CIMA students and members.