The President of the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) has challenged tax professionals and the tax authorities to consider the new Higher Apprenticeship in Tax as a route to open up access to the tax profession and a cost effective way of training new recruits.
Stuart McKinnon spoke of his excitement about the forthcoming roll out of the Professional Services Higher Apprenticeship Programme in his President’s speech at the ATT’s annual general meeting (AGM) today. The ATT is one of the bodies collaborating on the programme, which aims to recruit 1500 school leavers in the next three years.
Speaking at the ATT AGM, Stuart McKinnon said:
“One area we are very excited about is our Higher Apprenticeship in Tax which is on course to be rolled out in September. Hopefully everyone will have read about this... if not, why not! In outline this is an apprenticeship programme which we have developed with a number of partners with the ATT exams at its core. The employers’ commitment is to provide a minimum of 30 hours work per week paying at least minimum wage. Government funding is available to meet some or all of the exam fees depending on age. Further details can be found on our website.
“The apprenticeship covers two of our objectives as a charity. Firstly, it is for the public benefit that we increase the opportunities for the study and practice of tax. Secondly, we are helping to create more open access to the tax profession by specifically targeting this at 18 year old school leavers giving them a credible alternative to a university education and all that entails these days.
“Our partners have set ambitious targets for the apprenticeship programme and we would like to be in the forefront of this by encouraging take up. But it will only be a success if employers engage with us. In these still difficult times there is an opportunity for us all to repay the debt we owe to those who gave us our own opportunity to join the tax profession. Let ATT members be leaders in this initiative and help create meaningful and cost effective jobs. If you do only one thing for the Association this year please read the details on the apprenticeship scheme and think about whether you can help us create employment. I know you won’t let me down.
“I would also challenge HMRC to look closely at the apprenticeship and consider how it could also fit within their training programmes. At a time of severe funding cuts it could be a cost effective way of training new recruits. This isn’t just about the present but the future as well and what better way of “Working Together” than setting a common minimum standard for all those engaged in the tax profession in its widest sense.”
Stuart, who is a tax partner at Baker Tilly, based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, said earlier that his own firm plans to take on at least one apprentice at their Newcastle office this year.
In the same speech, Stuart also highlighted the ATT’s recent growth, to over 13,000 fellows, members and students. He said that student numbers had shown the most significant increase with like for like numbers up by 44% in the past year.
Additionally, in the context of HMRC’s Tax Agent Strategy, he said: “It is time for us to bring forward our own vision of how we would like to see the profession in 5, 10 and 15 years time.” He also called on members to get involved in the current consultation on a General Anti Abuse Rule (GAAR).
Notes to Editors
- The Higher Apprenticeship in Tax is part of the Professional Services Higher Apprenticeship Programme. This is being run by a consortium of organisations including PwC (the lead organisation), the ATT, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, the Management Consultancies Association, the Financial Skills Partnership and training provider BPP. The Programme will initially cover tax, audit and management consulting.
Apprentices on the tax route will follow a newly-developed level 4 Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) qualification in tax. The qualification will be designed to raise apprentices to the ATT professional standard.
It is expected that apprentices joining the Professional Services Higher Apprenticeship Programme will be a mix of school or college-leavers with good A-levels or equivalent qualifications, those who have completed Advanced Apprenticeships (e.g. in accountancy), and existing employees of participating firms. The programme aims to deliver 1500 apprenticeship starts in total by March 2015, divided among the tax, audit and management consulting routes. The first apprentices will start on the programme from September 2012.
Under the apprenticeship programme, the employer provides the apprentice with a wage but the Government provides all or part of the training costs.