An accountancy firm has supercharged its commitment to the ongoing learning and professional development of its staff – by enlisting 17 new apprentices.

Saint & Co offers a variety of apprenticeship programmes across four office bases in Cumbria to support people wanting to either start a career or develop their knowledge and qualifications within the industry.

The company has an annual apprenticeship programme, and this year widened its scope to provide more learning opportunities to a larger range of apprentices.

Rachel Simpson, 37, is working towards her Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification – 15 years after starting at the company.

Simpson joined Saint & Co within the payroll department at Whitehaven on maternity cover in 2008, and she has worked her way up to the position of VAT manager and accounts senior. To broaden her understanding of the industry, she is being supported through her accounting qualifications to achieve chartered status.

Commenting on this, she said: “I feel very fortunate to have the great support of the company which has helped find ways of introducing me to new parts of the business I’ve not been involved in before, and I’m excited to be working towards my ACCA qualification.

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“I expressed an interest in continuing my development at Saint & Co and learning while working has proved so beneficial to me. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given to expand my training and understanding of the industry.”

Alex Lamont, who is 17, has started working towards his Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) qualification after realising sixth form wasn’t for him. He will combine two years of studying at Kaplan Financial in Newcastle with working in the firm’s Carlisle office.

He said: “I did a year of Sixth Form but decided I preferred more practical learning so I went looking for an apprenticeship, which meant I could still get my qualifications while getting experience in the working world.

“I’ve always loved maths and had always wanted to be an accountant, so when I got this apprenticeship with Saint & Co it seemed like everything had fallen into place.

“I am loving my time here so far because the team is so fantastic that I feel I can ask them anything, and they treat me like I’m part of the team and not a newcomer to the industry fresh from school.”

In its latest intake, Saint & Co offered 10 apprenticeships at its Carlisle office, four in Ambleside, two in Whitehaven and Millom, and one in Wigton.

The firm’s student training partner, Sophie Graham, oversees the apprenticeship programme and said the bumper intake highlights Saint & Co’s desire to support people in their professional development journey, whatever route that might be.

She said: “Working with apprentices is very important to us as a company and we want to ensure that we offer wider career pathways for all, and not potentially miss out on somebody who doesn’t go down the more traditional route of a university degree.

“The majority of partners within Saint & Co who started with the company as students themselves, so we know first-hand how effective they can be as a starting point in somebody’s career.

“We often find apprentices bring a fresh perspective on things and make sure we are moving with the times, and the company is certainly feeling the benefits of working with so many apprentices.”