04 Sep 2017 | 11.18 am
Accountancy Career Path: Accounting Technicians
ATI apprenticeship is first accountancy apprenticeship in Republic of Ireland
04 Sep 2017 | 11.18 am
Accounting Technicians Ireland’s (ATI) commitment to enhancing its digital training opportunities will ensure the institute is future-proofed for a changing world of work and education, says Chief Operations Officer Gillian Doherty. “This will be to the benefit of our students, our membership and the institute itself,” she adds.
ATI delivers its pan-sectoral programme through a network of 70 partner colleges all over Ireland, as well as online. Online numbers grew by 27% in 2016 and ATI launched an additional intake in 2017 to meet the strong market demand. “ATI Online first launched in 2014 and the delivery model has become a popular choice among prospective students,” Doherty says.
ATI Online’s strengths are in its flexibility, which is provided by recorded lectures, strong student support, the face-to-face component and the peer-to-peer ‘virtual’ classrooms. Doherty (pictured) observes that ATI Online is popular among busy professionals who prefer to study in the evening, or for those who work at home. “It is also a great choice for those whose personal commitments mean they don’t have time to get to class or lectures.”
The model is also crucial in supporting ATI’s overseas expansion – the institute already counts students in Canada, Russia, South Korea and Australia among its numbers. Beyond its core programme offerings, ATI is also investing heavily in its suite of continuing professional development programmes, due to the deep and disruptive effects of technology on the accountancy sector and the business environment at large.
“In line with our Strategy 2020, we are expanding the range of CPD programmes to ensure that our members are future-proofed in a changing profession. It calls for skillsets such as data analytics, project management, communications, technical training and presentation skills,” Doherty explains. “While face-to-face training will always be a crucial element, we are expanding our range of online programmes so that our members can keep their skillsets up to date wherever they may live.”
ATI’s study options include fully funded training for jobseekers through ETBs, to flexible arrangements for part-time office workers in Dublin’s financial district. Doherty says that ATI is proud of the network of partner colleges it has developed since launching in 1983. “We have been able to supply the jobs market with cohort after cohort of qualified accounting technicians. Whether they’ve studied our qualification in Northern Ireland or the Republic, the fact that 95% of our members are employed is testament to the strength of our practical syllabus, and those who deliver it.”
First Ever Accountancy Apprenticeship
Some of these colleges have partnered with ATI to deliver the Accounting Technician Apprenticeship, the first such accountancy apprenticeship in the Republic of Ireland. “We are thrilled to join the National Apprenticeship Programme at this important moment in Irish education,” Doherty says. “The Department of Education & Skills should be commended for its efforts to expand the apprenticeship training model into new fields, and ATI is proud to pioneer these developments in the field of accountancy.
“The Accounting Technician Apprenticeship allows employers to diversify their workforce by bringing in young, talented school-leavers who are keen on a career in accountancy, and also by giving mature learners a possible entry route into this exciting career.
“Many women have traditionally pursued a career in accounting through ATI, and we are proud that new apprenticeships such as ours will open up opportunities for women in finance, while also addressing a recognised gender imbalance in the apprenticeship system.”
ATI CASE STUDY
Sharon Lynch was one of Accounting Technicians Ireland’s top-performing students in her final exams this year. She works in Colgate-Palmolive’s shared service organisation, supporting IT projects for Europe, Asia and Africa regions.
“I have always been interested in accounting and numbers,” says Lynch. She chose the mathematics and IT career route initially, but was drawn to the financial side of IT. After securing a position with Colgate-Palmolive, she decided to improve her accounting and finance skills by pursuing ATI’s qualification.
“I wanted to find a course that would explain the basics of accountancy and build from there. I had heard some great feedback on ATI and I liked their structure, and the fact that I could study online was a huge deciding factor for me.”
Lynch (pictured) explains that the online programme comprised four lectures per week, as well as online tutorials and three face-to-face weekends. “It is well thought out and the access to the tutors was well designed. Having the lectures at your fingertips and the ability to re-run the online lectures to improve understanding is a real advantage.”
Her advice to others undertaking ATI’s online programmes is to get into good study habits early. “It is important to be self-disciplined in managing your time effectively, all while maintaining a work-life-study balance. It is worth the effort.”
Lynch’s role is team leader of the commercial finance team, and she says the ATI qualification has given her the confidence and understanding to add value to the ongoing projects and to support her team.
“Colgate-Palmolive were very encouraging of me taking on this course and have supported me along the way. Looking to the future, I’d like to build on this role and take on more responsibility in the finance area. I’d also like to use my new skills to help local community events.”