Combining work, study and family

Emma King wanted to progress up the career ladder, but as a young mother she didn’t want to time out of work to study. So she has found the perfect solution. Since 2011, when she was 24, she has been doing an apprenticeship in accounting while continuing to do her job at SRC Taxation Consultancy.

She feels there needs to be wider knowledge of the type of study options offered by apprenticeships, something which is backed up by recent research by the Association for Accounting Technicians that suggests parents are unaware of the benefits of such study options.

Emma says: “I think there needs to be a lot more career advice out there so that people are aware of other opportunities such as apprenticeships. I think there is lack of understanding here in the UK about what apprenticeships can offer and how they can actually help you progress your career within a certain industry. We need to demystify the myths about apprenticeships so that people can really understand their potential, especially with the increase in university fees and in the current economic climate.”

Emma is a mum of two and had her son Joshua 10 months ago while she was doing her apprenticeship studying for an AAT qualification. In fact her biggest challenge so far has been keeping up with her studies when Joshua was born. In order not to miss a class, she was back at college just two weeks after Joshua was born. She says: “I’ve passed every exam even though some nights I barely get more than two or three hours sleep. Also it can be really hard to find the time to study and revise when exam time is approaching.”

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Emma attends college one day a week and is in the office for the rest of the week. Her mum looks after Joshua while she is at work and her eldest son Harrison, aged six, goes to school. “It’s a constant juggling act and it’s very hard sometimes fitting everything in,” she says.

However, she thinks it is well worth it because she has been able to learn skills that are relevant to her day to day job which has meant she can take on more responsibility and climb the career ladder since she started. It has also earned her a pay rise. She plans to continue with her studies to become a fully fledged chartered accountant. She says: “The great thing about studying the AAT qualification is it is recognised by all the certified accountancy bodies which means I can receive exemptions from certain modules when I progress to my chartered studies.”

Higher apprenticeships

Research out this week from the AAT shows many parents are unaware of what apprenticeships have to offer, and they are not alone. Their survey found 63% of parents don’t understand apprenticeships enough to explain them to their child and 81% are unaware that a Higher Apprenticeship is a university-level qualification. Some 73% underestimated the amount a young person’s lifetime earnings could be boosted by doing a Higher Apprenticeship and 72% believed the starting salary for a young person doing a Higher Apprenticeship at a top firm like KPMG to be significantly lower than the actual £20,000 figure.

Moreover, 48% felt apprenticeships were geared more towards boys rather than girls and nearly a third believe they are for less academically able young people.

Emma, who left school with A Levels in maths, business studies, French and philosophy and ethics, says: “My apprenticeship has opened so many doors for me. It has allowed me to progress in my chosen career and I know that I can continue to climb the career ladder to reach the top which will allow me to better my life for me and my family.”

*The AAT is holding a Twitter Q&A on Friday 26 July from 12-2pm at to help prospective students take the next step in their career. Parents and students are encouraged to tweet questions @StudyAAT, or leave a question via a comment on AAT’s Facebook page at 

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