IFA backs university call for Level 6 degree apprenticeship

2019 IFA Mediarelease Webheader

26 November 2019  

The Institute of Financial Accountants is backing a campaign to create a new Level degree apprenticeship, offering potential apprentices the opportunity to earn and learn  and qualify to an honours degree level. The Level 6 degree apprenticeship, which would be added between the currently available Level 4 and Level 7 apprenticeships, will provide apprentices with the opportunity to obtain relevant, market-appropriate accountancy  qualifications without reaching a postgraduate standard. The Level 4 apprenticeship only offers a foundation learning, meanwhile the Level 7 apprenticeship develops skills which are highly specialist such as auditing and often beyond the needs of the apprentice, their employer and their future SME clients.  

The professional body is supporting the proposal by Jonathan Mills at Birmingham City University and is inviting feedback and comments from industry by the 19 December 2019.  

Anyone with an opinion on whether the Level 6 degree apprenticeship will be relevant to their business, who wish to express their thoughts on the matter, or be part of the potential trailblazers group should send their feedback or comments to education@ifa.org.uk by 19 December 2019. 

John Edwards, CEO of the Institute of Financial Accountants comments:

For a long time, our members have expressed a desire for an improved apprenticeship programme, enabling them to provide on-the-job learning, but at the same time supporting their employees to gain degree-level knowledge rather than just a foundation. We are delighted to be supporting a provisional bid to introduce a Level 6 degree apprenticeship, but want to hear back from active accountancy practices and members in business about the relevance to their businesses and their teams. We feel that the Level degree  apprenticeship offers an unprecedented route to training with the opportunity for up to 100% funding, and 80% of the training done on-the-job, and so welcome this chance to support it. 

The proposed Level 6 degree apprenticeship will: 

  • be equivalent to a degree-level course, without having to undertake the post-graduate training associated with the current Level 7 
  • be available through Universities for the first time and will be able to count as credit towards a degree in accounting  
  • include 80% on-the-job training and 20% outside the business although not necessarily in the classroom 
  • cover new and relevant topics not included in Level 4 such as technological capabilities and the use of technology systems in accountancy, cyber-crime and security risk, data protection legislation, and Making Tax Digital compliance among others. 

The Level degree apprenticeship will also change the learning process and unlike the existing degrees, apprenticeships, and accounting qualifications will not be as heavily exam based and will include systems technology training for the first time.

The proposed course will still use exams to test technical elements of accountancy and tax, but will shift focus so that it also includes work-based learning in the use of employers' own systems and processes, as well as core modules on cloud-based systems and the application of the latest technology being used in business for automation, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.

A focus will also be included for the soft-skills required to practice, including consulting, presenting, discussing, debating, meetings, negotiations, team-working, and giving advice, so that individuals are well-rounded and ready for work.  

Jonathan Mills of Birmingham City University and Non-Executive Direct of Forest Phoenix Accountancy Ltd comments:

“I have been researching this with employers and students for a number of years because no degree, apprenticeship, or professional course, currently equips accountants with all the technical, technological and soft skills they need to meet the demands of modern business effectively. And when degree apprenticeships exist for surveyors, solicitors, and several for engineers of different types, it makes no sense that none has been created for a profession that is so important to businesses and that can have a significant impact on the productivity of UK SMEs. This is why I am pleased to have the support of the Institute of Financial Accountants, a quantity of their members, along with the NHS, and Thomson Reuters. However, we still need to recruit more employers that support this from retail, manufacturing, charities, and local government, in order to present the most convincing cross-sector proposal to the Institute for Apprenticeships.” 

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You can find out more about apprenticeships in the learning section of the website. 

To speak with a member of the IFA or for any other media enquiries, please contact Victoria Ward on 07875 155 020; victoria@aptpublicrelations.co.uk