Apprentice to Professional

Matt Roke - Accountant for Childrens Social Care

After completing my A Levels, I had no aspirations to go to university. Like many young people I was trying to establish a career but had no interview success with many different employers due to lack of experience in the financial sector. I very quickly realised experience would be very difficult to obtain, however, the Devon County Council Apprenticeship Scheme was the perfect opportunity for me to gain the relevant skills, knowledge and competencies I needed. Little did I know when I joined DCC Finance as a young 20-year-old apprentice in 2010 I would be where I am now!
The two-year apprenticeship program enabled me to gain qualifications in Business Admin Level 2 and 3. What I didn’t realise at the time, the wide and varied experience I gained of the many different finance functions would give me precious experience to allow me to apply for different jobs further in my career. Even over the two-year program I developed relationships with people I currently work with today.
At the time my Apprenticeship concluded, due to restructures and vacancy freezes, jobs were very difficult to come by in the local authority, however, I was fortunate enough to secure permanent employment with the Charging for Care Services team. My desire was to further my career in Finance but to do this I felt I needed my AAT Finance qualifications. As a result, a year later, I secured the post of Finance Assistant within Childrens Finance Child Protection (a post I previously had oversight of as an apprentice) which enabled me to commence my AAT studies. 
As I progressed through the AAT course I quickly developed new skills and competencies which enabled me to apply for jobs at a higher level. I then successfully applied for the Finance Officer role within Children in Need, Children Services. 
Whilst conducting my Finance Officer role I successfully concluded my AAT studies, but I felt I could do more! Soon after, I applied to start my CIPFA (Charter Institute of Public Finance) qualifications. To my delight, due to my AAT success and the reputation I had built within Devon Finance Services, the Assistant County Treasurer agreed to fund my studies with little hesitation. 
As with my AAT, soon into my CIPFA studies I again developed the skills and competencies which enabled me to successfully apply for the post of Accountant within Children Services in November 2016.  Essentially in the space of 6 years I had gone from Apprentice to Accountant, earning a respectable salary, managing a small team, whilst becoming a very competent and experienced member of the Children Services Finance Team.
I have thrived and enjoyed all my job roles within DCC and now that I am coming to the end of my CIPFA studies I am looking for my next promotion and exciting challenge within Devon Finance Services. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my DCC colleagues and the training and development I have been provided with from day one. 
Life has changed a lot for me personally since entering Devon County Council as a young man. I am now married and a home owner who has just welcomed our first child into the world. Ultimately, Finance was the career I chose to enable me to live the life I live, and I will never forget that it all started with the DCC Apprenticeship Scheme.  I would highly recommend the Apprenticeship program to anyone who has the drive and enthusiasm to succeed and is struggling to establish their desired career.  With the right attitude, work ethic and support mechanisms in place the apprenticeship scheme offers a fantastic opportunity to start your career in the best way possible!

Matt Roke
Accountant, Childrens Social Care


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