AAT research reveals more students looking to start their own business

More students are interested in apprenticeships and starting their own business than ever before, new research from AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) has shown.

A survey of over 2,400 AAT members (including over 1,500 students) conducted earlier this year revealed that apprenticeships have grown in popularity.

According to the results, 25% are currently studying as part of a formal apprenticeship scheme – up nearly 10% from this time last year. Those at Level 3 of the AAT qualification are most likely to be on an apprenticeship scheme (34%).

Interest in owning a business has also increased amongst students with almost a quarter (22%) interested in starting up a business in the next five years, compared to 13% in 2011.

The results are indicative of a changing educational landscape and an unreliable job market. The introduction of £9,000 tuition fees has prompted many to question the best route into a career and consider alternatives such as on-the-job training and becoming self-employed.

Motivators to study AAT remain consistent with nearly half (42%) of students saying that having a career in accountancy is their top motivator followed by the desire to gain a formal, professional qualification (22%).

AAT Chief Executive Jane Scott Paul commented: “With the hike in university tuition fees, people are questioning whether a university degree is the best route into a professional career. The good news is that they are recognising there are other options. Vocational learning gives students the chance to earn while they learn while gaining valuable work experience along with the recognition that comes through a reputable and valued formal qualification.

“It’s clear that the economic downturn has created a more ‘entrepreneurial generation’ eager to take control and in some cases, work for themselves. Similarly, more employers are opening their recruitment policies to school leavers who are eager to get a foot on the career ladder.”

Helen Bloodworth, Training Manager at Baker Tilly Chartered Accountants commented: “We’ve noticed an upsurge of interest in our school leaver programmes as more young people are seeing the opportunity to avoid debt and gain work experience. For us, school leavers tend to have good attitudes and we can mould them into the Baker Tilly culture much better because of their age.

“Our programme allows young people to progress up the career ladder to chartered accountancy gaining invaluable work experience along the way and adding more value to the business as they grow and prosper.”

Each year, AAT conducts an annual survey of its membership to look into the views, attitudes and satisfaction levels of members at all key stages of the membership journey on a variety of topics.