More and more people in Hartlepool and the surrounding area are changing direction and opting for a career in finance. That is the view from Hartlepool College of Further Education’s school of Professional and Creative Studies, where course leaders are teaching students aged 19 plus new skills to either head in a new direction or switch roles with an employer.
The increase in numbers enrolling on either a Level 2 or 3 Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) course is the result of changing mindsets, with many impacted by the effects Covid-19 had on society among other things. Recent labour market intelligence claimed accountancy is one of the biggest rising employment sectors in the Tees Valley and Hartlepool College’s high expectations prepare students for roles regularly advertised by such firms.
Julie Todd-Davis, a Lecturer in AAT who moved into education from accountancy 18 years ago, said: “We know there are a variety of accounting jobs out there, with companies actively advertising for new staff. If you enrol on AAT courses with HCFE, there is a good chance you can apply and successfully secure these jobs. One year with me and students are qualified to go into accountancy roles. That is why it has proven so appealing to those already in employment, as the course is about transforming lives. I have a good mix of students. Some have come on who is working with accountancy and finance but have no accounting qualifications, in the care sector, with charitable organisations, insurance, a nursery nurse, in retail, at McDonald’s – even someone on maternity leave.”
Julie believes the vast majority of those studying accountancy are wanting to better themselves and secure a more professional role without heading down the degree pathway. Courtney, who did not want to use her surname, works as a home care assistant and embarked on the course to look at a career change during maternity leave having loved maths at school.
Clare Jones has a background in customer services and, despite having no formal qualifications from school, initial assessments were above the level 2 that was required for the course and she loves maths. Care assistant Tia Coleman moved to the area from Kent and is now looking to change to a finance role.
Andrew Bennett, who works for Amazon as a fulfillment associate and wants to join the army, wanted skills in how to manage money and understand payroll for a later date.
Then there is Charlie Marshall, a roofer. After he was diagnosed with epilepsy he had to pursue a non-manual role so he is looking for a job or an apprenticeship that allows him to use his excellent mathematics skills. Chris Judson is currently completing his Level 3 AAT whilst working as a manager at Weatherspoon's and said the course has given him a "hunger to learn".
And Danielle Swift has just completed Level 3 AAT having started off as a barmaid in a local pub. She is now a financial administrator at the College and the team are “thrilled” with her attitude and work. Hartlepool College’s oldest accountancy student was 65 but the course is open to anyone who has a grade C or above in maths and English or subject interview.
Maria Archbold, head of the College’s School of Professional and Creative Studies, said: “AAT is an excellent provision that can lead to employment. Look at the examples we have here, a lot of people are trying to diversify and develop as people, and some can have transferable skills that work well in accountancy.“Everyone is pushing for high results because of our high expectations. We are not just working with people to get a pass grade – we want them to achieve high standards. Julie is fantastic at what she does ,using tried and tested methods of teaching she's helping the students achieving amazing results in their exams. with her very mature approach to class.”