baq94
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Hi all, I am applying and interviewing for jobs that offer study support. I understand it usually takes a minimum of 2 years.

My concern is that I’ve had a previous experience where an employer came across very well in interview, but after a few months of working there, the role and company wasn’t as great as they had made out.

If I were to accept a job with a company that pays for some of my exams etc, and then want to leave maybe 8 months later having sat a few exams, am I tied to them in anyway? What have been the conditions for this in your contracts in your experience?

Obviously my intention would be to stay there until I was fully qualified and maybe even stay there after this. I want to know this before accepting any offers but if I were to ask this at an interview it wouldn’t give a good impression.

Thanks in advance
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ajj2000
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Hi. Will write some notes later. Two years seems unusually fast - how many exemptions do you have?
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baq94
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Hi. Will write some notes later. Two years seems unusually fast - how many exemptions do you have?
Thanks. I only have one exemption. I'm expecting it to take longer than two years but I've heard of people smashing through ACCA in around two years.
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ajj2000
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(Original post by baq94)
Thanks. I only have one exemption. I'm expecting it to take longer than two years but I've heard of people smashing through ACCA in around two years.
First observation is that I wouldn't say that in an interview. I'm certainly not saying its impossible but very tough to do with a full time job without a load of exemptions. I haven't heard of anyone doing it in that time under those conditions. You can pretty much with ACA as a lot of employers give time off and training courses to support clearing exams quickly.
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ajj2000
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(Original post by baq94)
Hi all, I am applying and interviewing for jobs that offer study support. I understand it usually takes a minimum of 2 years.

My concern is that I’ve had a previous experience where an employer came across very well in interview, but after a few months of working there, the role and company wasn’t as great as they had made out.

If I were to accept a job with a company that pays for some of my exams etc, and then want to leave maybe 8 months later having sat a few exams, am I tied to them in anyway? What have been the conditions for this in your contracts in your experience?

Obviously my intention would be to stay there until I was fully qualified and maybe even stay there after this. I want to know this before accepting any offers but if I were to ask this at an interview it wouldn’t give a good impression.

Thanks in advance
Ok - I don't know how firms in the profession deal with training costs these days, nor those providing training under apprenticeship schemes where they use apprentice levy funds. I do have an idea of what firms in industry tend to do and some things to be aware of.

Just as a note I've never heard of anyone having a major crisis with training costs for accountancy exams. I think its one of those risks you probably have to just run with. If you have particular circumstances which may make this difficult please let me know.

First comment, because a lot of people applying for accountancy roles are not aware of this, is that the training costs that companies will pay for vary hugely. From nothing at all and no time off to pretty generous (class based courses, all study materials and a few days off per subject. Again - industry is rarely as generous in this respect as the large accounting firms. A reasonably generous allowance would be something like:

- 2 days exam leave per subject
- training cost of £3,000 per year, or distance learning courses for 4 subjects per year paid for
- all institute and exam fees paid for.

Historically companies didn't really use contracts to recoup training costs for the graduate type trainees - in part as a training allowance was seen as part of the T+Cs of employment. That had been changing a lot over the years so you do need to check how this might work.

The conditions vary hugely. Often companies have a standard training costs agreement for all staff in all departments so might be unwilling to change for any individual. Reasonably standard wordings would be:

- repayment of all third party training costs if you leave within one year or two years from the date the costs were incurred
- repayment of all third party training costs if you leave within one year or two years of the date of the exam.
- repayment of all third party training costs if you leave within one year or two years on a sliding scale
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ajj2000
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So - things to consider.

- Never ask about specifics of repayment during an interview or until you have a job offer and contract in your hand. Just don't!

- Remember - you do not need to accept a job offer. You can try to negotiate but be aware of the risks so do this sensibly for your circumstances.

- The devil is in the detail. Lets say you have to repay all costs for two years from the time the costs are incurred. You need to have an idea of how much this might be. I've known people who purposefully saved up this amount just in case. It can be expensive but the precise terms make a lot of difference.

- You may want to consider how you spend your training allowance. For example taking one exam per quarter reduces the outstanding balance at any one time compared to signing up to 4 exams a year at the same time.

Things to be really careful about:

- I have heard of a company where people signed training contracts where they had to pay back training costs if they left within two years of the completion of the qualification. Now, thats pretty reasonable for shortish courses such as health and safety. Not so good for professional accountancy exams. It could easily take 4+ years to finish which is a long time to commit. What if you stop studying or can't pass later exams? I don't know.

- conditions that you have to repay all costs if you fail. Failure rates are high for accountancy exams unlike most workplace training schemes.

- long tie ins can be very expensive if you don't get pay rises. You could be stuck at a much lower than market rate of pay. Likewise if there are no opportunities to expand your experience. That can have long term impacts.

To somewhat offset the negativity:

- if the economy is strong other companies will take over your training costs if they want to recruit you.

- Lots of well prepared trainees keep the costs down for the first 4 or so exams by using free online resources and just buy the text books and question banks. At least that way you have time to know that the company is decent before risking a large bill.
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ajj2000
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I guess you have to consider how likely it is that you would want to leave. If you might want to move to another area of the country I'd be more cautious. If you have a bad commute - again be a bit more cautious.
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Mosaic4
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Where I work there used to be a condition that if you left within 2 years of qualification, you could be asked to pay the support back (on a sliding scale). However now that we are using the apprenticeship levy to fund training, we don’t ask for this to be paid back. I think that is because it isn’t allowed under the terms of the levy. Perhaps this is worth checking on the govt website if it is something you are concerned about.

Then the only question you need to ask is whether the qualification utilises levy funding. This is important for other reasons as the qualification under the levy gives you additional things to complete as opposed to the normal qualification outside the levy.
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baq94
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(Original post by ajj2000)
So - things to consider.

- Never ask about specifics of repayment during an interview or until you have a job offer and contract in your hand. Just don't!

- Remember - you do not need to accept a job offer. You can try to negotiate but be aware of the risks so do this sensibly for your circumstances.

- The devil is in the detail. Lets say you have to repay all costs for two years from the time the costs are incurred. You need to have an idea of how much this might be. I've known people who purposefully saved up this amount just in case. It can be expensive but the precise terms make a lot of difference.

- You may want to consider how you spend your training allowance. For example taking one exam per quarter reduces the outstanding balance at any one time compared to signing up to 4 exams a year at the same time.

Things to be really careful about:

- I have heard of a company where people signed training contracts where they had to pay back training costs if they left within two years of the completion of the qualification. Now, thats pretty reasonable for shortish courses such as health and safety. Not so good for professional accountancy exams. It could easily take 4+ years to finish which is a long time to commit. What if you stop studying or can't pass later exams? I don't know.

- conditions that you have to repay all costs if you fail. Failure rates are high for accountancy exams unlike most workplace training schemes.

- long tie ins can be very expensive if you don't get pay rises. You could be stuck at a much lower than market rate of pay. Likewise if there are no opportunities to expand your experience. That can have long term impacts.

To somewhat offset the negativity:

- if the economy is strong other companies will take over your training costs if they want to recruit you.

- Lots of well prepared trainees keep the costs down for the first 4 or so exams by using free online resources and just buy the text books and question banks. At least that way you have time to know that the company is decent before risking a large bill.
Thanks so much, you’ve been very helpful. I will keep all of this in mind.
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baq94
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(Original post by Mosaic4)
Where I work there used to be a condition that if you left within 2 years of qualification, you could be asked to pay the support back (on a sliding scale). However now that we are using the apprenticeship levy to fund training, we don’t ask for this to be paid back. I think that is because it isn’t allowed under the terms of the levy. Perhaps this is worth checking on the govt website if it is something you are concerned about.

Then the only question you need to ask is whether the qualification utilises levy funding. This is important for other reasons as the qualification under the levy gives you additional things to complete as opposed to the normal qualification outside the levy.
Interesting, I haven’t heard of this. I’m not applying for apprenticeships though so would this levy still apply?
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ajj2000
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(Original post by baq94)
Interesting, I haven’t heard of this. I’m not applying for apprenticeships though so would this levy still apply?
If you want to do accountancy google it!

The government makes most employers pay a percentage of their payroll costs which they can recoup if they spend money on apprenticeships. The costs they recoup are for external training courses, and they must give staff on the schemes one day a week for study leave.

A lot of companies are using this for accountancy training as they have loads of money they can reclaim and not enough opportunities to spend it. For some graduate type schemes employers dont advertise as apprenticeships as:

- they get a load of applications from 16 year olds and
- many grads are put off by the term.

You could contact Kaplan - they keep a list of people interested to put forward to employers.
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Mosaic4
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(Original post by baq94)
Interesting, I haven’t heard of this. I’m not applying for apprenticeships though so would this levy still apply?
I don’t know, it is depends on individual firms. We are using the apprenticeship levy to fund all professional accountancy training now. This doesn’t just apply to people who join as apprentices but to existing staff members in substantive posts who want to train too. The levy funding is available for a lot of courses lasting more than 12 months and so all of the ACCA, ACA, CIMA and CIPFA courses can fall under its remit. We also use it to train more junior staff for AAT.
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