The purpose of this paper is to investigate students' perceptions of work-based training and examination-based learning as it relates to the professional competence of auditors. The paper takes as its motivation the fall in the number of accountants registering as qualified auditors in the UK following fundamental changes in the audit environment. Legislation aimed at reducing red tape has resulted in a large number of UK companies taking advantage of an audit exemption, and most of these are clients of small audit firms. This legislative change has had significant pedagogic implications on the experiential learning of audit trainees and the availability of training opportunities for them. The contribution of the paper is to explain the perceived relevance and importance of training opportunities to trainees seeking to obtain audit qualifications. Using data from an on-line questionnaire and focus groups, the study reports that trainees in smaller firms lack opportunities to obtain sufficient audit experience, and there is a lack of synchronization between limited practical experience and classroom tuition provided before taking auditing examinations. The implications are that effective audit training will become restricted to large audit firms the trainees in which often choose different career paths to auditing, thereby limiting the number of qualified auditors in the UK in the future.