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Gareth Skinner – Celebrating Apprenticeship Success

Recently qualified accountant, Gareth Skinner secures a role as Corporate Tax Associate at Grant Thornton based within their Manchester offices.


Gareth expressed an interest in the Accountancy apprenticeship roles advertised with EMA Training in January 2015, it wasn’t long before Gareth secured a role as a Trainee Accounts Apprentice at M H Preece and Co, a Derby based accountancy practice. Gareth progressed through from level 2 to level 4, passing every assessment first time and becoming AAT qualified with the support of EMA Training in 2017. Gareth then continued his studies to soon become ACCA qualified in 2019.


We invited Gareth to a Q and A session with us to find out how he feels his apprenticeship supported him in his chosen career path to become a qualified accountant:


What made you choose the apprenticeship route?


I knew I wanted to become a qualified accountant long term. Having researched into the knowledge and skills employers look for in the accountancy industry, it was clear that majority prefer you to become AAT qualified through the apprenticeship scheme. This route means that you gain the work experience, soft skills and life skills at the same time as achieving the nationally recognised qualification that employers desire. I would 100% recommend it over going to college or university, debt free route.


How do you feel the apprenticeship scheme supported you to secure the role at Grant Thornton ?


The commitment I have shown to achieve my apprenticeship, alongside becoming AAT and ACCA qualified gave me the confidence to apply for a role at Grant Thornton. The apprenticeship was a great way to be paid and gain the skills I needed as a foundation for my career.


How has your apprenticeship developed you personally?


I gained the confidence to ask questions at the very early stages of my apprentice. The apprenticeship is designed to be asking why I am doing something, instead of just doing it! With the knowledge that I gained on my training days with EMA, I found myself constantly applying in my work role to further develop my skillset. As I developed onto level 4, I soon developed the skills to support and mentor the younger apprentices at work.


Do you feel EMA played a part in your success to become qualified?


Absolutely, the support was unlimited, it was constant and the same support network helped me from level 2 to level 4 of my apprenticeship, a real family feel. Even though I haven’t attended EMA since 2017, I know the support and guidance is still at the heart of what they do from talking to the apprentices. I previously mentored apprentices that had also attended EMA and some of my connections currently attend EMA for their training. EMA certainly played a part in the early years of my career, I passed every exam first time.


How will your responsibilities change now you are qualified?


Now qualified I am trusted to be able to work directly with clients in order to complete complex tax returns, ensuring they are fully compliant with HMRC's legislation's. With the knowledge gained through the apprenticeship and throughout my ACCA studies, I now feel confident to carry out my role and mentor other trainees, trainees that I can relate to – I have been through the same challenges they now face. Also, I work with other highly trained/experienced staff to promote an efficient and skilled team. Ultimately, being qualified has allowed me to be trusted to carry out tasks that at first seemed almost impossible!


What advice would you give to anyone thinking of applying for an apprenticeship?


Consider your chosen career, research into what employers want from you in terms of experience and qualifications. Even something as simple as looking at a typical job you would love to do in a 3 years’ time, look at the job adverts, what skills and qualifications are employers asking for? Definitely, contact EMA. I know if they can’t offer you the career pathway, they will point you in the right direction.