Calling all school leavers

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Lauryn Graham joined Audit Scotland in October 2017 as a trainee. Unlike our other trainees, Lauryn hadn’t been to university. Instead she came to us straight from high school and became the first person to be hired as part of an initiative offering a training position to a school leaver. It’s a unique opportunity to contribute to our work, gain full sponsorship to become a qualified Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAS), and get paid. So, what has Lauryn’s experience been so far?

Not long ago I was in the same position as many of you, coming to the end of my school years and deciding what to do next. Go on to study further? Head straight into the world of work? While I was contemplating which of the two routes to go down I heard about the Audit Scotland school leaver programme and realised there was the option of doing both.

A lot of people think you need to have a degree to get a good job and that you should experience life as a student. That’s great, but for me it was really important to get practical work experience at the same time as learning.

I left school at the end of sixth year after completing my Highers which included Maths, English and Business. Maths and Business had always been my favourite subjects at school and I’ve always had an interest in how the public sector works. That’s what attracted me to Audit Scotland.

It can be a hard decision to make when you see your friends going off to university and you’re not following them, but I know I made the right choice. I could actually end up achieving more than many of them career-wise – I’m gaining all of this practical experience at the same time as learning. My colleagues have all been really supportive and helped make the transition from school life so much easier.

Life here as a school leaver trainee is great. You’ll take part in some really interesting work and get a real understanding of how the public sector works, while gaining an internationally recognised chartered accountant qualification with ICAS. All trainees here get time off to do exams and study. In my first few months of joining, I completed my first ICAS Business Law exam – it was challenging but not too much of a jump from studying for Highers. In the following September ICAS classes began for our Financial Accounting and Principles of Auditing and Reporting exams.

Being part of the Audit Scotland school leaver programme has opened up so many exciting opportunities for me – they get you involved from day one and I’m considered to be a really important member of the team. A lot is expected of you, but I thrive on that and the level of trust and confidence they have in me is fantastic.

I’m currently part of the Scottish Government audit team which is one of the biggest teams across Audit Scotland. I’ve been involved in planning work and helped present at our team meeting with the Auditor General. I found this a bit scary, but I was really pleased with how it went. I am now working towards presenting again at this year’s meeting. I was also involved in other areas of the audit.

In addition, I’ve been involved in other Local and Central Government audits throughout the year. At the same time I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with people outside of the office, such as senior figures from the Scottish Government. I’ve also had opportunities to find out about the work of our other audit teams, including those focusing on national and local council reports.

There have been some great training sessions along the way from both ICAS and colleagues, including other trainees. One of the key highlights from my time here would be the all staff annual conference, which was a great opportunity to meet more people from the organisation that I hadn’t had the chance to work with yet. I’ve also built up good friendships with a lot of the other trainees here.

I love it here at Audit Scotland. I’m really looking forward to the future and learning as much as I can!

If you’re keen to study and gain practical experience at the same time, have a passion for helping improve public services in Scotland, and have achieved or are expected to achieve good results in Higher Maths or English (or equivalent) by summer 2019 then why not consider joining Lauryn and applying for our 2019 programme? Full details can be found here. Applications close on 17 March.

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