Identifying a progressive and future-proof career path for your students – via an Accounting Technician Apprenticeship – in these unsettled times
Achieving over 550 points in his Leaving Cert, twenty-two-year-old Matthew Casey, surprised family and friends by turning down a place on UCC’s commerce course, instead taking up an apprenticeship to become an Accounting Technician.
“Yes, people thought it was the wrong move,” explains Matthew. “There is a feeling that the best pathway when you finish is college. I have proven them wrong with a valuable qualification, and I got to earn money at the same time.”
Initially only applying to the Apprenticeship as a fall-back option, a summer working in a restaurant led Matthew to a decision to gain experience in his chosen field of accounting and finance from the get-go. Following two years apprenticing with Clonakilty firm, Crowley and McCarthy Chartered Accountants, Matthew is part of the first cohort of students to graduate from the Accounting Technician Apprenticeship and is now on his way to becoming a Chartered Accountant.
Skills to progress
The Accounting Technicians Ireland Apprenticeship is a two-year, work-based programme which enables participants to work in the office for four days a week during the academic year, and study with a local college one day a week.
With two intakes in January and September each year, and applications opening early next spring for the September 2021 intake, students have the opportunity to gain a two-year contract with a local employer, an in-demand accountancy QQI Level 6 award, whilst having their college tuition fully funded by SOLAS, the further education and training agency.
The qualification equips students with the skills to progress both within their role and organisation, bringing real value to core business functions such as accounts preparation, recording receipts and payments, processing invoices, payroll, and budgeting.
Adrianna’s first year experience
Adrianna Rup, aged twenty-one from Finglas, is a now second-year apprentice with Grant Thornton and cites the ability to earn while you learn as a big draw when considering what to do after sixth year as she wanted to be able to contribute financially at home.
Recommending the programme as an ideal jumping-off point for secondary school students to enter the professional world, Adrianna says of her own experience: “There is no stigma around being younger or inexperienced, and even the partners are very approachable and easy to talk to.
“I completed my Leaving Cert in 2019 and didn’t have much work experience other than babysitting, waitressing and shop assistant roles. I stumbled across the apprenticeship online by chance while looking for options.
“I feel I have gained a lot of experience in a short time and continue to learn new things every day. You gain a very in-depth knowledge of what you are studying and witness first-hand how an accountancy firm operates.”
High employment rate
With such economic uncertainty at the moment and with the traditional college experience undergoing huge upheaval, apprenticeship as a way to gain a qualification and earn a salary at the same time, is an appealing route for students.
Following the two-year Accounting Technician Apprenticeship, students not only achieve an excellent qualification, but also a wide encompassing range of work experience which will stand to them in future roles.
Many apprentices are retained by their employer, helping to contribute to the high employment rate of qualified apprentices after their completion of the programme.
The employer experience
Cavan town firm, KBG Accountants, have taken on four Accounting Technician Ireland apprentices and according to partner Mark Reilly, the programme has huge benefits for both the apprentice and employer.
“We have found that apprentices who choose this route from Leaving Certificate are just as capable as graduates who spent three to four years at third-level,” explains Mark.
“It offers an accelerated option to becoming a Chartered Accountant within five years. We train the apprentices from the very beginning as to how exactly jobs are to be completed and can mould them into what they need to be.”
Indeed, apprentices under the Accounting Technicians Ireland programme enjoy exemptions from the full-range of professional accountancy bodies including Chartered Accountants Ireland, CPA, ACCA and CIMA.
“Our students, when they complete the apprenticeship, gain a much in-demand accountancy QQI Level 6 award and two years of solid work experience, placing them in a strong position to progress in business or to further study,” confirms Gillian Doherty, ATI Chief Operations Officer.
Upon graduating, apprentices can also apply for Membership of Accounting Technicians Ireland, joining a busy professional network of accounting and finance professionals based across Ireland and abroad, and are able to use the professional letters MIATI after their name
The Accounting Technician Apprenticeship provides a real alternative for students sitting their Leaving Certificate next June, who prefer practical training to a full-time college programme.
The September 2021 Apprenticeship will be based in Dublin, Wicklow, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Galway and Monaghan and applications will open in early spring 2021.
FIND OUT MORE:
If you would like to find out more about the Accounting Technician Apprenticeship, you can get in touch with the team at: