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IFA backs university call for Level 6 degree apprenticeship

The Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA) 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.

IFA backs university call for Level 6 degree apprenticeship
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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.

According to the IFA, the Level 4 apprenticeship only offers a foundation learning, while the Level 7 apprenticeship develops skills that are highly specialist such as auditing and often beyond the needs of the apprentice, their employer and their future SME clients.   

"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," said John Edwards, CEO of the IFA. 

"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 per cent funding, and 80 per cent of the training done on-the-job, and so welcome this chance to support it."

The professional body is inviting feedback and comments, to [email protected]from industry by 19 December 2019.  

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 per cent on-the-job training and 20 per cent outside the business although not necessarily in the classroom; and
  • 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 is also expected to 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.

“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," said Jonathan Mills of Birmingham City University and non-executive director of Forest Phoenix Accountancy. 

"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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