Social mobility and the professions

accapr —  29 October 2013 — 9 Comments

SH  01

By Sarah Hathaway, head of ACCA UK

Social mobility and access to the professions has been headline news following publication of the latest government report, recently, along with serious criticism of the careers advice offered to school pupils. The original idea for creating a Professions Week as a collective response to the challenges from professional bodies came over a year ago – 15 bodies came together to make this happen, and I was delighted to be chairing the group.

As Baroness Shephard said at the launch event at the House of Commons, it’s rare for professional bodies to collaborate in this way. So why bother? Between us the professional bodies involved have nearly a million members and students in the UK; ACCA alone has over 140,000. That’s a powerful army of professionals who can help spread the message to young people that a career as a professional is both attractive and accessible. Part of the aims of the week were to mobilise our members to do just that – go into schools, colleges and universities and talk about their career and experiences. I have met many ACCA members who have come through a non-traditional route into the profession, and they have stories that will be inspirational to young people making big decisions about their future. ACCA was founded on a principle of open access, and we still hold true to that value today – it’s a real differentiator for us.

One of the other aims of Professions Week was to make the government aware of the role professional bodies play in providing a link between schools and businesses, helping to get the right advice out there at the right time. ACCA delivers public value, it’s embedded in our qualifications, standards and ethics. Providing access to a career as a finance professional to talented people, regardless of their background, benefits the employers we work with and ultimately their customers and the wider public.

So what do young people think about a career as an accountant. Research was conducted as part of professions week with 1,200 young people from less advantaged backgrounds. The good news is that 90% of those we asked have heard of careers in the financial areas, such as an accountant or tax adviser. And 39% of those said they have a very good idea what an accountant does, with 54% saying they have a rough idea. This sounds positive, until we explore some of the other outcomes of the research. 23% have someone in their close network who is an accountant – the highest of all the professions listed. So where do the other 70% get their information from, and is it reliable? 45% think you need a university degree for a financial career, which of course isn’t true, so the right information definitely isn’t getting through. The other challenge is that 18% are interested in a career as an accountant – that’s a relatively good proportion given the number of professional careers we’re talking about, but if it’s founded on misconceptions, how can we reach these young people? And more worryingly, only 26% think they could become an accountant, even if they wanted to. The final hurdle is around their perception of a professional career. Thankfully, more respondents said it was exciting than those that said it was dull. But there are a lot that think it’s linked to paperwork and not people…most accountants I know say communication skills are paramount.

What we have a mixed picture, with a real desire to increase the visibility of the accessibility and attraction of an accountancy career. Last week was the start of a move to play an even greater role in reaching these young people with the right messages, and I know we can build on this. At an ACCA members event last week I put a call out for every member to play a part. We have provided the tools we have the right qualification, we have the right history…now is the time to take action.

Advertisements

9 responses to Social mobility and the professions

  1. 

    From a less advantaged background and having broken through the barriers, funding my studies with the ACCA with first time passes in all papers, I still face on a daily basis glaring discrimination to securing a role in finance.

    The initial excuse from the firms when I was seeking funding to study for the ACCA qualification was that in their experience the crop of students they recruit were the most suited to pass the examinations.

    Believing I could succeed in the professional examinations; I worked as a cleaner to fund my studies and obtained first time passes in all my papers.

    Almost a year after completing the ACCA qualification I still work as a cleaner; the current excuse of the firms, I lack the required experience and their belief that students they recruit are of the high calibre to succeed in the professional examinations: NEWSFLASH: I SUCCESSFULLY PASSED ALL PAPERS FIRST TIME.

    Almost heartbroken and at the verge of giving up a career in finance, I believe now what the career advisors told me in junior high school; you will be better off as a musician or health care assistant.

    • 

      Hello, sorry to hear about your struggles with starting your finance career. Have you looked at the ACCA Careers website, which may help in your job search? The website is: https://www.accacareers.com/ All the best

    • 

      I have been working on gaining a role through the ACCA careers portal and I have made some progress hopefully I may see light at the end of the tunnel.

      I have also been working as a volunteer on the NHS Audit of Health Care Environment Pilot program, PLACE Audit Program 2013,

      Unfortunately I can not get into a private finance career because I do not have the relevant experience required by the ACCA in order to use the ACCA letters and few bussiness will want to hand over their trust to an Affiliate with no firm background.

      Creating services for SME’s will require a platform on which they can base their trust; i.e. from a firm or with a firms background (under supervision from a qualified member) or personally having the ACCA letters after my name; being a member myself.

      On the other hand I have started a financial and forex trading bussiness with £20 using my knowledge from the F9 and P4 papers and my returns have been quite good, currently my portfolio has grown from £20 to just under £1200.

      Being a minority in a city that is prejudiced towards persons from disadvantaged backgrounds means that you face a lot of barriers when you present a business plan for finance hoping to start anything on your own.

  2. 
    Sylvia Byekwaso Musoke 4 November 2013 at 10:51 am

    I am a graduate of CPA Uganda, i would like to know how many papers i am supposed to take up in order to be an affiliate of ACCA

  3. 

    Kofi, I am proud of you. you have done well to have passed your papers but now you must work on your atttitude. I want to believe you ‘ve properly schooled yourself not just to apply for jobs. You should be able to create and give services especially to many SMEs around you. Think about this, it will definitely counts for you if you eventually seek
    a permanent employment in bigger firms

    • 

      I have been working on gaining a role through the ACCA careers portal and I have made some progress hopefully I may see light at the end of the tunnel.

      I have also been working as a volunteer on the NHS Audit of Health Care Environment Pilot program, PLACE Audit Program 2013,

      Unfortunately I can not get into a private finance career because I do not have the relevant experience required by the ACCA in order to use the ACCA letters and few bussiness will want to hand over their trust to an Affiliate with no firm background.

      Creating services for SME’s will require a platform on which they can base their trust; i.e. from a firm or with a firms background (under supervision from a qualified member) or personally having the ACCA letters after my name; being a member myself.

      On the other hand I have started a financial and forex trading bussiness with £20 using my knowledge from the F9 and P4 papers and my returns have been quite good, currently my portfolio has grown from £20 to just under £1200.

      Being a minority in a city that is prejudiced towards persons from disadvantaged backgrounds means that you face a lot of barriers when you present a business plan for finance hoping to start anything on your own.

  4. 

    I’ve been a Care worker for many years now and now want a job in accountancy as i’ve always been interested in finance but never had the confidence. I definately don’t want the rigmarole of going to Uni either. I’m looking for volunteer work for experience to start with. I’m not bothered in become a fully qualified accountant but ACCA is a great education and the self-pay prices are very affordable. Thank you ACCA.

  5. 

    Kofi !
    Thanks for your story. I’ve ‘played’ the stockmarket for many years and accountancy (with a few Warren Buffet books) have helped me immensely. I’m 41 and thought I’d be a care worker forever ! I’ve bought Accounting De-mystified a few days ago and hope to sign up with ACCA after i’ve read it !
    I always thought accountancy as a fine springboard to a good job, whether in the Council or a company; sidestepping Uni and all that entails. I had three wonderful teachers many years ago, all ACCA chaps in an NVQ at CITE Associates in London, along with a retired accountant I met in Woodham Church Hall jumble sale when I was 13 looking at an accountancy textbook ! I was too ill to learn at the time but fondly remember their great patience and support to the class. It is partly because of them that I ‘got back on the horse’ more than 16 years later !
    I feel less pressure at 41 ! Less testosterone isn’t necessarily a bad thing !
    Life is ticking on by and happiness/ health is becoming more important than building an empire now ! Good music, books and good friends, can’t go wrong !
    Good fortune. Rupert R.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s