Apprenticeship option opens a gallery of opportunities

Mentor Mary Leane(left) and Katie Haverty. Pic: Fintan Clarke

“The practical nature of the programme, the salary and the fully-funded fees make the Accounting Technician Apprenticeship particularly appealing to School Leavers who prefer learning by experience to full-time college education”

Picture caption: Head of Finance at the National Gallery of Ireland, Mary Leane (l) and Katie Haverty, who has recently finished her first year of the Accounting Technicians Ireland (ATI) programme at the Gallery. Pic: Fintan Clarke

The wonderful environs of Dublin’s National Gallery have become the workplace of an accountancy apprentice thanks to a programme which allows students earn while they learn.

The gallery houses an amazing collection of European art spanning the 14th to the 20th-century.

And now it’s the place of work of Katie Haverty, who has recently finished her first year of the Accounting Technicians Ireland (ATI) programme.

Supportive

Student Katie (20), from Finglas started with the ATI apprenticeship after becoming disillusioned with a full-time college course, joining nine finance staff at the Gallery.

“I began an arts degree, but there was only 12 hours of study across the whole week and I had to travel to the college for only one hour a day,” she said.

“I deferred the course for a year and began working as a pay role clerk, which I loved, so I when I saw the apprenticeship course online I liked everything it offered.

“The tutors and my employers are so supportive and you get 15 days study leave a year for exams.

“If you were in full-time study and had a part-time job, you wouldn’t get that. This course really takes the stress out of studying while working.

“There’s nothing else like it and I’ve already recommended it to my friends.”

Work-based learning

The Accounting Technician Apprenticeship is a funded, work-based learning programme in which locally-placed apprentices earn at least Ä19,000 a year and it has created 160 jobs.

Head of Finance at the National Gallery of Ireland, Mary Leane, has described the concept as fantastic, with quality of training second to none.

“I’ve always had a lot of time for accounting technicians, but this course is a step ahead of the rest,” said Mary.

“I’ve often come across graduates who aren’t able to put theory into practice after they qualified.

“But this course enables the student to apply what they have learned straight away, which makes the academic side easier for them.

“The balance between theory and practice is brilliant.

“Classes are small and the college monitors both the student’s work and checks on the employer also.

“I would highly recommend the course to any employer, especially as there are no recruitment or course fees involved.”

Applications for the apprenticeships, which will be based in Dublin, Wicklow, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Galway and Monaghan are now open.

Leaving Cert students and mature learners can apply for the programme through Accounting Technicians Ireland.

A real alternative

This apprenticeship provides a real alternative for Leaving Certificate students who prefer practical training to a full-time college programme, or for students who may have embarked on a college course and found that it didn’t suit them.

It is also an attractive option for existing employees and mature learners who would like to pursue a career in accounting.

Large accountancy firms such as Grant Thornton, smaller high street practices as well as organisations in industry and the public sector have embraced the new apprenticeship programme.

Their apprentices work in the office four days a week and study in a local college one day a week during the two-year programme, which begins in September.

Progress on

Successful graduates of the apprenticeship programme may then progress on to full Accountancy with Chartered Accountants Ireland or one of the other professional accountancy bodies.

The practical nature of the programme, the salary and also the fully-funded fees really make the Accounting Technician Apprenticeship particularly appealing to School Leavers who prefer learning by experience and work to full-time college education, according to Gillian Doherty, Chief Operations Officer at Accounting Technicians Ireland.

In-demand accountancy

“When students complete the apprenticeship programme, they will have a strong, in-demand accountancy QQI Level 6 award, two years of solid work experience and the opportunity, if they wish, to progress to further study across accountancy, business or finance,” said Ms Doherty.

“This is a pan-sectoral programme which meets the needs of industry, practice and the public sector, and graduates enjoy exemptions from the full range of professional accountancy bodies including Chartered Accountants Ireland, CPA, ACCA and CIMA.”