I’m from Porthmadog North Wales and I studied accountancy at Grwp Llandrillo Menai. I’m currently working at Audit Wales as an apprentice auditor.
Having spent three months at university studying accounting and finance I decided university wasn’t for me and got a job as a youth worker with a local charity. When we faced lockdown, I started to question what I wanted to achieve in life and decided I wanted to become an accountant. As I was married and had a house to pay for, going back to university and not earning a wage wasn’t possible so I started to look for an apprenticeship and was successful after trying for a couple of different positions.
I won the gold medal in Skills Competition Wales in 2022 I was then encouraged by my college to compete in WorldSkills UK. At the time I didn’t know much about it but I wanted to progress with my learning and decided this would be the perfect opportunity to learn more and test my new skills.
I first competed in the regional competition which due to the pandemic was held via Zoom in June 2022. We were given multiple accounting tasks which we then presented in a 10-minute presentation to a panel of judges. We then had to wait until early July to find out if we had qualified for the National Finals. These were held in London in November (a couple of days after an AAT exam we had to study for!). Prior to the Finals we were given extra lessons at college as there were some topics we hadn’t covered before that we would need to know for the competition. We achieved a highly-commended certificate meaning that we achieved an above average score.
My favourite part of competing was meeting other young professionals within the accounting profession and learning about the different jobs available within the vocation. There were a variety of career paths represented within the top six competitors such as auditing, financial analysts and accounting technicians.
The biggest challenge we faced was we were aware prior to the competition that there were a number of topics we hadn’t covered within our college tuition that we needed to know about such as the BCG Matrix, the 7 Ms and other financial management tools. To overcome this challenge, we discussed the situation with our college tutors and agreed we would have an hour lesson every week to cover some of the content we would need to know for the competition. Inspiring Skills Wales in partnership with the Welsh Government provided a grant for this to be possible without affecting Coleg Menai’s budget.
The main skills I developed from being involved in the competition are in communication and presenting. Presenting isn’t something I currently do within my job, so the preparation lessons we received and the chance to use the skill during the contest gave me the opportunity to develop that skill. Kaplan gave us a brief lesson on presenting which covered areas such as body language, engagement and visual aids.
Since competing I’ve still been working as an apprentice for Audit Wales and I hope to stay on as a trainee and pursue a chartered accountancy qualification whilst continuing to work.
Taking part in the WorldSkills UK Competitions has enabled me to develop skills that will be useful to me in my career in the future as I work towards my goal of being a chartered accountant. The networking opportunities given to us as part of the competition will also be of value to me as I progress within the accountancy profession.
I would definitely encourage anyone thinking about entering a WorldSkills UK competition to go for it because the skills you develop during the preparation for it are invaluable. Being successful in the competition also shows that you are the best at doing the skill in your industry which is a confidence boost and a great thing to put on your CV.
One thing I’d like to see changed is the stigma around apprenticeships. When I was applying for university everyone who was successful in their A-levels were encouraged and expected to go to university. This meant that at the time I never even considered the possibility of completing an apprenticeship. I have learned is that there are so many different opportunities within apprenticeships and technical education and that it saves you from the debt that going to university incurs.