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Why Training Contracts and Apprenticeship are a Great Alternative to University

With A-level results done and dusted, the next big thing on student’s mind is which university they will be going to. This seems to be the natural route for most students who are fresh out of sixth form or college but what about those who are unsure? 

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Training contracts and apprenticeships are fast becoming a great alternative for those who do not want to go to university and get saddled down with more than £20,000 worth of student debt.

One of the benefits about training contracts or apprenticeships is that those who choose to go down this route have the opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience working within a company while also studying towards a qualification.

Another major benefit is that in most cases, the individual will be paid to work for the business and will also have their education funded by the company they are working for, meaning no debt at the end of their course.


When people think about apprenticeships, most will likely think of a trade, such as plumbing or electrics. However more companies in a range of different sectors across South Wales are seeing the benefits and now offer them.

Dee Pattemore went down this route and trained with Cardiff-based accountancy firm, Kilsby Williams. After successfully completing her qualification she is now a business services manager for the firm.

Speaking about her training, Dee said:

“I knew quite early on the career that I wanted to pursue and felt accountancy was an area where obtaining experience whilst studying would be more worthwhile than just completing a degree, which is why I looked into training contracts.”

Dee joined Kilsby Williams in 2007 after completing her A-levels and undertook the AAT-ACA Fast Track, which is a route that allows people to gain the AAT qualification and to progress onto the ACA via a faster route. This option means that it can take four to five years to become a fully qualified chartered accountant, compared to six years via university.

Dee added:

“The average degree may take around three years to complete, after which a graduate would seek to start the ACA qualification. The advantage of a training contract is you would have learnt the same subjects, but you also have three years’ experience behind you and could even be slightly ahead in terms of exams.

“Following discussions with colleagues who even have a degree in accounting and finance, I also believe that the AAT probably provided a more relevant foundation to the chartered exams and certainly assisted with quickly developing an understanding of key areas which was invaluable when working with clients and progressing in my role.

“Kilsby Williams has been brilliant in terms of the support provided, from covering the training and exam costs to facilitating career progression through mentoring and varied job experience. I would recommend that anyone thinking about a career in accountancy considers training with an approved firm as an alternative to university.”

Kilsby Williams is dedicated in supporting new trainees achieve their qualifications and has a new starter beginning in September.  Fresh of out sixth form, Ellis Potter will be joining Kilsby Williams and, following the same route as Dee, will be starting the AAT-ACA Fast Track at the firm.

Ataf Salim, Partner at Kilsby Williams, said: “At Kilsby Williams we understand that not everyone will want to go down the university route or that there are people looking for a new career path but not sure where to turn. It’s for these reasons that we offer our training contracts.

“They provide an alternative to gaining a qualification and rather than just studying, they can gain skills and experience, utilising what they are learning in real life situations.

“We are always on the lookout for bright new talent and the opportunity to work with determined people hoping to expand their knowledge and experience of this industry.”

Kilsby Williams has been offering training contracts for more than 20 years and offer a range of different contracts, including the AAT-ACA Fast Track as well as ICAEW training contracts.

For further information please visit www.kilsbywilliams.com or email [email protected]