A View From The Bridge - Graham Parker

Training the Future

Starting on a new career path having finished University, School or College can understandably be a daunting journey for young people. Suddenly thrust into the “real” world, do we expect too much from those entering the workforce and how can we best prepare them for what’s to come?

One thing is clear that  once they are in the door, it is vital to provide the proper training and support to allow that individual to grow and given the opportunity to proposer in their role.

I am the current Vice Chair of the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Scotland Committee. The role of the committee is to support ACCA in maintaining high standards, create and lead member communities and promote the qualification and profession across the UK. Everyone on the committee has their own passion and it is fantastic to hear the conversations and what as a team we can do. For me, there is nothing better than knowing you can help those starting out on their career path with ACCA and I enjoy helping the students.

When lockdown started in March 2020, a lot of students didn’t know where to turn. Were the exams and courses still going ahead were the immediate issues but quite quickly other questions raised there head. Sitting working at your desk or kitchen table all day at home and then stopping to have something to eat before going back to the same table/computer to study again was going to be tough.

Where is the motivation?

Yes, a qualification at the end of it all but difficult to concentrate when so much else going on in the world. I therefore decided to start a study group for ACCA students to join every two weeks on Zoom. It was a great way for students from other accounting firms and business sectors to get together and find out that in fact they weren’t alone and were all going through the same challenges. The sessions included guests from ACCA and Kaplan to discuss exam formats and study tips as well as helping with performance objectives. We also obviously had to include some social events like an online quiz… standard lockdown event!

Two years later and the catch ups are still happening, albeit they have evolved over time. Instead of me guiding, I am now just facilitating the less structured approach whereby the students are learning from each other and passing round their own tips and techniques for the exams, its great to see.

Once we look past the formal qualification however, what’s next in the career path. Having spent a large amount of time on screens are soft skills even more important?

I believe the answer is yes.  Communication, Teamwork and Critical Thinking are the three most powerful skills that you need to embrace to take your career to the next level. It may be that the core of communication changes as flexible working beds into society more. Part of how we communicate in person is the way we stand, use our arms- our whole body language. There is therefore a new skill to communicate effectively on screen.

My biggest tip for trainees is always have the courage to step out your comfort zone!!

Graham Parker, Client Director

Condies Accountants and Advisors