A Walsall teenager who quit school to join LTSB programme says it was the best decision of his life.

Rising star, Josh Uppal, 17, who comes from a working-class background in the West Midlands, chose to learn, work and earn through our accountancy apprenticeship scheme instead of staying in school and then racking up a huge debt at university.

After receiving 8 A-C GCSE’s from Barr Beacon School, Josh could have studied A-Levels and progressed on to university but he decided to join our pioneering programme, which helps young people who face disadvantage to secure top jobs with blue chip companies in the financial sector.

Josh, who is one of leading audit, tax and consulting firm, RSM UK’s, youngest ever employees in the Birmingham office, said: “Applying for the LTSB scheme is the best decision I’ve ever made.

“My school wasn’t offering me anything that I wanted to specifically do and so an apprenticeship was far more appealing.

“Through LTSB I was able to gain the same qualification I could get from 6th form and I would be getting vital experience from an apprenticeship. On top of that, the average student debt is now £57,000 and there’s still no guarantee of a job afterwards.”

The LTSB programme runs over two years, and includes Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications, an apprenticeship placement with a high-quality employer such as RSM, and leadership development opportunities including a sports leadership qualification with an elite football club foundation.

LTSB’s partner companies have an efficient pipeline to young talent while delivering on their commitment to a more representative workforce.

Josh, who is an accounting and business advisory assistant at RSM, initially found the adjustment from school to full time work challenging but thanks to the support of LTSB and RSM, he was successfully guided through his issue.

He said: “I wouldn’t have been in the situation I’m in now without Leadership Through Sport & Business. The job role at RSM requires A-Levels but thanks to LTSB I was considered for the position and thankfully got the job.

“I’ve been working at RSM for six months and at first I struggled because it was a big adjustment, being 17. I found it difficult getting into the work routine.

“James from LTSB helped me at the start. He reassured me throughout the transition into the role at RSM. LTSB do go the extra mile and I know the support is there if I need it.

“If someone in my area was given this opportunity I would tell them to go for it! As a 17-year-old, you won’t get this anywhere else. LTSB have got me here, imagine what they can do for you.”

Josh’s Manager from RSM, Helen Wright said: “Josh is a very keen worker. He’s fitted into the workplace as if he was a graduate starter and it feels like he’s worked here a lot longer than he has.

“It’s clear LTSB have taught Josh how to act in a business environment and he’s brought a great deal to the team. He has a great mind-set and is always willing to learn and develop.

“LTSB is a fantastic programme because it gives young people opportunities that they would never normally have. It provides them with experience and knowledge about accountancy that they wouldn’t have been able to learn in a classroom.”