Statistics from BIS in 2016 state that more than 99% of UK companies are classed as SMEs, and they account for 60% per cent of private sector employment and 47% per cent of private sector turnover.

Most of these businesses need to be able to do internal accounting better and Sage is the No 1 Accounting Software used by the SME sector.

Sage CEO Stephen is clear on why, “It’s about ensuring access to digital skills education for all as we approach the 4th Industrial revolution.”

Sage have collaborated with many accounting and bookkeeping awarding bodies, and several regional universities to develop a series of nationally recognised and regulated qualifications in computerised accounting and payroll. Working closely with universities such as Ulster and Hertfordshire, we now have over 25,000 learners with a Sage qualification, ensuring access to digital skills education as we approach the 4th Industrial Revolution.

This work supports learners and businesses by giving practical skills and demonstrating how, when used proficiently, computerised software adds real value to a business. It also increases a learner’s employability, encourages self-employment and enhances business confidence in critical decision making formed on the basis of accurate data management.

“For the students, achievement of the certificate immediately improves their employability, giving them a differentiating factor from their peers.” Ulster University

This collaboration is driven by a unique and interactive e-Learning portal which provides downloadable software for every learner, is easy to use, has simple explanations and examples with a plethora of pictures, videos, quizzes and activities. Providers have found that with this portal, the project enables learners to collect and collate financial data which they can analyse, synthesising it into information which supports better decision making. It also allows for learners to gain added value with up to date and practical skills, such as sending the mandatory returns required by HMRC when running a business, and explains the importance of timely data submission as well as simplifying the processes.

“I have found the SAGE module interesting as I am learning a system which I may be using for the majority of my life and gaining experience, as well as a professional qualification (Sage), which will benefit me greatly.” Student in SAGE training

To ensure that qualifications translate to employability, Sage works with awarding bodies such as IAB, Skillsfirst, ICB, City & Guilds, OCR, ICAEW and CIMA. These qualifications and courses mean that for the first time, a person’s skill at using Sage Accounting and Payroll software can be officially benchmarked, with an accredited Sage UK certification which proves competency. The qualifications begin at Level 1, then progress through the Further Education levels 2 and 3, and extend into Higher Education at Level 4 and 5. Most of the current partnership qualifications are on the RQF and attract SFA funding.

We know that this certification makes the learners more employable because they have practical skills that are of immediate use to an employer who will recognise the Sage brand – backed with awarding body accreditation.


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.