Scottish accountancy firm Johnston Carmichael has launched a virtual workplace challenge for more than 100 students across the country
The scheme, which is the first of its kind, is a partnership with Skills Development Scotland, schools and further education colleges.
The firm designed the challenge to allow students undertaking Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualifications to carry out the practical work experience element of their courses despite the ongoing requirement to work from home amid the pandemic.
The initiative will require students to research the establishment of a small business in one of four key sectors – hospitality, agriculture, food and drink or technology. As part of the project students must provide the new entity with a name and determine the principal focus of activity.
Students will decide the most suitable legal structure for the business and be challenged to prepare financial statements, then consider whether they should be audited. Finally, they will be asked to look at options for acquisition.
Participants have three months to complete their projects before giving a brief presentation, which will count towards their overall marks. The firm is supporting each student by providing regular calls with its managers. The students have also taken part in online Q&A sessions with school leavers and graduates, who are working towards becoming qualified chartered accountants while in full-time employment at Johnston Carmichael.
Karen McBride, senior audit operations manager at Johnston Carmichael, who is coordinating the scheme, said: ‘Students would normally complete a two-week work placement but as this is not possible in the current situation our scheme gives them a chance to develop practical skills and interact with our teams. This will provide them with a feel for what it is really like at an accountancy practice as they go on to make career choices.
‘What’s great for us is that we get early engagement with young people considering accountancy as a career choice and the initiative will also enable us to build our relationships with schools and colleges.
‘Accountancy is a people profession and attracting strong candidates to our firm is crucial to our future success.’
The virtual workplace challenge is part of the firm’s innovative approach to securing and developing the next generation of its talent pipeline. Johnston Carmichael offers young people a wide variety of entry points to the business including JC Futures, a six-year training contract for school leavers, summer internships, and a graduate programme. It also operates a BA Accountancy apprenticeship with Robert Gordon University.
Johnston Carmichael has 13 offices across the UK and is part of the PKF International network, with over 400 offices operating in 150 locations.