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ATI student shortlisted for the Higher-Level Apprenticeship Award in North

Earn as you learn on an innovative and practical route to a career in accountancy

One of our students on the Higher-Level Apprenticeship in Accountancy in Northern Ireland was nominated for the Department for Employment & Learning’s Higher-Level Apprentice of the Year Award. Cara Hadden is part of the first group of young people in Northern Ireland to benefit from the programme, which was rolled out across all six regional colleges last year.

Cara was nominated for the award by her employer, Belfast-based professional services firm Goldblatt McGuigan, and Belfast Metropolitan College, which runs Accounting Technicians Ireland’s training course. Cara is one of four apprentices that Goldblatt McGuigan took on in August 2014 as part of the initial pilot scheme of the Higher-Level Apprenticeship in Accountancy. The apprenticeship is a fully funded full-time work-based programme which enables school-leavers to earn while they learn and gain an internationally recognised professional qualification.

‘Real Contribution’

“My experience of the apprenticeship has been fantastic.  Not only have I received excellent training throughout but the work I do has real value. Having the opportunity to make a real contribution to a firm while I earned my qualification was one of the things that attracted me to the Higher Apprenticeship in Accountancy, and having this contribution recognised really means a lot to me,” says Cara.

‘Fresh Ideas’

Cara’s nomination caps off a tremendous year for the programme. Goldblatt McGuigan felt that Cara deserved to be put forward for this award owing to the significant contribution she made to two major forensic investigations.

“We are delighted that Cara has been nominated for this award, which is thoroughly deserved.  Since joining us, she has been involved in a great range of work, including forensic, tax, audit, litigation support services, and account engagements for a variety of sectors including the legal, retail, and agriculture industries.  Our apprentices are getting excellent experience, but I must also stress that, as Cara’s example clearly demonstrates, we have benefited greatly from the fresh ideas and energy that she has brought to the company.”

‘Great Expectations’

Gillian Doherty, Chief Operating Officer at ATI, also congratulated Cara on her nomination: “This is a tremendous achievement for Cara and her success demonstrates the calibre of young people who are being attracted to the Higher Apprenticeship in Accountancy.

“We are absolutely delighted with the success we have seen with the rollout of the Higher Apprentice in Accountancy in Northern Ireland and I am incredibly excited to see the programme being made available across the entire island of Ireland when our first groups of students in the south begin their apprenticeship in September. Cara and the rest of this initial group have set the bar very high, so we have great expectations for the next groups to follow in their footsteps.”

‘Barometer of Success’

Commenting on the success of the ATI programme, Christine Brown, Head of School, Belfast Metropolitan College said: “Our relationship with ATI has lasted over 20 years.  The main reason we have found the collaboration to be successful is ATI’s ability to understand simultaneously what students want and employers need.

“One of the great barometers of success that we look for is a course’s retention rate.  We currently have 26 apprentices working across 11 employers of varying size in Belfast.  Of those who enrolled for the Higher Apprenticeship in Accountancy, all of them are on target to complete the course and qualify.”