Umbrella Accountants boosts its digital services by taking on apprentices

Umbrella Accountants boosts its digital services by taking on apprentices

10 February 2016

Umbrella Accountants has recruited four young apprentices from local colleges to help the company capitalise on growth and boost the digital arm of its business.

Benjamin Smallman, 16; Sheraz Sheikh, 18; Liam Parker, 19; and Nicola Worthington, 23; have all joined Umbrella in training roles over the last couple of months.

In addition to their college accountancy course, which they attend one day per week, the group gains practical experience of everyday working life at Umbrella Accountants.

Their in-work training has centred on learning to use cloud-based accountancy software packages like FreeAgent and Xero that are used by small businesses and freelancers. 

Umbrella’s operations director Neil Armitage explained how the new recruits fitted into the company’s growth plan.

He said: “We’ve grown a lot over the last few years and it is important that we keep bringing people in at all levels to make sure we maintain the same high standards of service. The directors are also keen to give something back to the local area that has given us so much.”

Two of the apprentices, Nicola Worthington and Sheraz Sheikh, are working towards their AAT Level 3 accountancy qualification at Macclesfield College and spend four days per week getting practical experience at Umbrella.

Nicola said: “After the birth of my daughter, I really wanted to build a career that I could be proud of and I think I’m on the road to achieving that at Umbrella Accountants.

“It’s great that we get hands on experience using the cloud-based software because I definitely see these as the future of accounting. Compared to some of the systems that we use at college, the FreeAgent software is much easier to use, especially for things like invoicing, uploading bank statements and adding expenses.” 

Sheraz Sheikh, who turned 18 a few days ago said: “I’ve been at Umbrella for less than three weeks now, but I already feel very welcomed. Everyone is very helpful and friendly, there’s even a games room where we can play pool at lunchtime.

“I’ve also received lots of support from my dad and my brother who are also accountants. I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to join the family trade.”

Liam Parker lives in Hazel Grove and is completing the academic part of his accountancy apprenticeship at Marple Sixth Form College.

He said: “Accountancy has always appealed to me because I enjoy working with numbers, but I knew fairly early on that I didn’t want to go down the university training route.

“Doing my apprenticeship with Umbrella has given me loads of experience and the opportunity to earn money while I’m learning. And the best part from an accountant’s perspective is that I won’t have lots of student debt to pay back once I qualify.”

Ben Smallman also studies at Marple Sixth Form College. He said:

“I’ve always learned better by doing things instead of sitting behind a desk, so when my teacher told us that Umbrella was recruiting I put myself forward straight away. So far I’m really enjoying my time here. In fact my only problem is that I’m going to put on weight very quickly if I keep participating in the office’s traditional ‘Fat Friday’.” 

Photo: Apprentice Benjamin Smallman