Hannah Beattie, HR adviser for graduate and school leaver recruitment at the NAO, explains how successful candidates will get the chance to gain ACA accreditation while benefiting from some unique work opportunities
What do you look for in an applicant?
There's no such thing as a typical NAO graduate trainee. We accept applications from all degree disciplines. We look for a 2:1 degree in any subject (achieved or expected) and 300 UCAS points or equivalent from your top three A-level grades (or equivalent - general studies does not count). From this year, we'll also consider applicants with fewer than 300 UCAS points who meet certain criteria in our contextual recruitment system. Please see NAO for more details.
How can a graduate trainee stand out?
As we accept any degree subject and welcome diversity in all its forms, we'd like to think that everyone stands out in their own, unique way. Applicants are able to make their mark in a number of ways though, from being passionate about the public sector to demonstrating how our scheme will further their development and aid their aspirations. We're always impressed by people who are enthusiastic about our work and how they feel they can contribute to it, so we would encourage people to do some research and think about how they see themselves working with us.
How does the NAO graduate training programme work?
NAO trainees get the chance to be part of work that has a real impact on the nation straight away by contributing to our audits and other projects. Alongside that, our three-year ACA training programme sees them right through to qualification as an associate chartered accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). Our exam pass rates are consistently at or above the national average, meaning our trainees have the best possible chance of qualifying and progressing their careers as quickly as possible.
Trainees get responsibility from an early stage in their careers with us, helping to deliver our financial audit work and having opportunities to work on our high-profile value for money studies and a range of other assurance work. Our unique and varied list of clients means that trainees could be working with anyone from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to The Royal Household.
What are the key benefits of the programme?
We aim to be at the leading edge of public service accountability and see ongoing training and development as essential to the success of the NAO and its people. The graduate programme is a major contributor to this so our trainees receive first-class professional training and developmental support. After qualifying, they also enter into a two-year development programme to support their progression and further build their careers.
In addition to ongoing training and development, we offer a host of other benefits including a benchmarked, highly competitive starting salary, membership of the excellent civil service pension and payment of professional subscriptions. Trainees also benefit from designated college and study time and a comprehensive support network, including an NAO 'buddy' from our more experienced trainees.