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Waterford woman trades hairdressing for accountancy

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Waterford woman trades hairdressing for accountancy

Naomi Lonergan is now taking part in the Accounting Technician Apprenticeship scheme

A former hair stylist from Waterford is set to cut it in a completely new profession thanks to an accountancy apprenticeship programme which allows students in the South East to earn while they learn.

Naomi Lonergan (24) found she loved the stock control and commercial elements of the hair styling business.

As a result, she is now taking part in the Accounting Technician Apprenticeship scheme, a funded, work-based learning programme in which apprentices will earn at least €19,000 a year and study at Waterford College of Further Education.

As part of the apprenticeship, Naomi is working with Connors and Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors in Waterford city and achieved top marks in her year one exams.

Apprentices work consists of 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.

"I was looking for a career change and accountancy always interested me,” said Naomi.

“I found this course at Waterford College of Further Education in an online search and signed up. I didn't want to give up my wage and go back to study full-time so it ticked all the boxes for me.

"It is very challenging and there is quite a bit to study, the one day a week 8am to 5pm day at college is intensive, but it is so interesting and if you discipline your time management, it flies and you will love it."

Director of Connors and Co Shane Connors said he is delighted the course is available in the South East, guaranteeing quality staff in the region.

Mr Connors, who has been in business for five years and is about to open another branch in Kilkenny, was happy to take on Naomi. "She started with us in the summer and as it's a little bit quieter then we were able to spend a lot of time with her ensuring she was familiar with us and our systems before beginning her studies," he said.

"The course is quite practical and she pretty much applies what she is learning straight away. The programme is structured in such a way that we can ensure she gets appropriate work to suit the modules she is covering at a particular time.

"One of the biggest issues in Waterford is getting staff. Graduates of Dublin accountancy colleges often stay there and it can be hard to attract people to commit to a career here. Hopefully this course will generate home-grown accounting technicians who will seek employment in the South East," he said. 

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

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

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 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.

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 the fully-funded fees make the Accounting Technician Apprenticeship particularly appealing to school leavers who prefer learning by experience to full-time college education, according to Accounting Technicians Ireland chief operations officer Gillian Doherty. 

“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 in 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.”

For more details of the apprenticeships see accountingtechnicianapprenticeship.ie.