A Lurgan man who scored top marks on the island of Ireland as an Accounting Technicians Ireland (ATI) apprentice has called for more students to follow his path.
Oran Madine (21) is now studying to become a fully-qualified accountant with the help of his employer, Noel Conn and Company in Armagh City, to whom he had been apprenticed.
The ATI Higher-Level Apprenticeship in Accountancy, which allows students to work, earn and learn, is to create 100 jobs in Northern Ireland.
The two-year, funded, work-based learning programme sees locally-placed apprentices earn at least the national minimum wage and above.
Applications are now open for the programme, which starts in September, and is delivered through regional colleges across Northern Ireland.
School leavers, A-level students, career-changers and mature learners can apply.
The Accounting Technicians Ireland Higher-Level Apprenticeship provides an alternative for school leavers who prefer practical training to full-time college, or those who may have embarked on a university course and found it did not suit them.
It is also an attractive option for existing employees and mature learners who want to pursue accounting.
Large firms and smaller practices, as well as industry and the public sector, have all embraced the programme.
After completing his A-Levels at Lismore Comprehensive School, Oran signed-up as an Accounting Technicians Ireland apprentice through Southern Regional College, Newry and was apprenticed to Noel Conn and Company.
“After completing my studies with Accounting Technicians Ireland, I continued to work for Noel Conn and Company and entered into a training contract to become a chartered accountant,” said Oran.
“I started the Apprenticeship in September 2018, straight after leaving school. The only employment I had before then was working weekends in a bar.
“I heard about the programme from a friend who had completed it. Other classmates had enrolled for apprenticeships in different fields, and the idea appealed to me.
“Because it was my first professional job there was a steep learning curve at the beginning.
“But with the support of colleagues and the college I progressed well and enjoyed learning new skills each day through working with a wide range of clients.
“I worked four days-a-week, and attended college one day-a-week, it allowed me get on-the-job experience whilst developing an element of college life. Study leave was also a great help.
“There are lots of advantages to the Accounting Technicians Ireland Apprenticeship and I would recommend it to any A-Level student with an interest in business and finance.
“You get to earn while you learn and have your studies paid for. You get on-the-job experience and a highly respected qualification without the need for student loans. There was great support from my employer and college.
“It is a great foundation on which to build a career with many opportunities. I was entitled to exemptions from some of my chartered exams because of my Accounting Technicians Ireland qualification.”
An extension to the New Apprenticeship Incentive Scheme was announced by the Department for the Economy earlier this year, which aims to support employers recruiting apprentices.
Until March 2022, employers in Northern Ireland will be eligible for up to £3,000 for each apprenticeship created.
According to Gabriela Airini, Apprenticeship Director at Accounting Technicians Ireland, the incentive will increase employer participation.
“Accounting Technicians Ireland is pleased our apprenticeship contributes towards job creation and business growth in Northern Ireland,” she said.
“Since the programme’s foundation in 2014, the Higher-Level Apprenticeship has been the source of over 500 jobs in Northern Ireland.
“Each year, more employers sign up and we now partner with over 100 employers across 13 sectors.”
For more details, see accountingtechniciansireland.ie