For anyone considering a career in financial services, aspiring chartered accountant Michelle Fitzsimons from Downpatrick is a great example of the rewards that can be gained from studying a higher-level apprenticeship at SERC.
27-year-old Michelle completed her Accounting Higher Level Apprenticeship earlier this year and has already secured full-time employment with her employer Morrissey Chartered Accountants, where she originally worked during her apprenticeship. Michelle is now a fully-qualified accounting technician and plans to complete her professional chartered accounting exams soon - a global hallmark.
The former St Marys pupil, had plans to progress to university after completing her A levels, but soon realised that it wouldn’t have been for her. She always wanted to study accounting, but it wasn’t until she saw the accounting apprenticeship promoted on the College website that Michelle decided to speak to the tutor and enrol for the course.
Michelle said: “I would definitely recommend a higher-level apprenticeship to anyone who wanted to gain a qualification alongside their job. After school I wasn’t ready for university and this course gave the opportunity to realise my ambitions of becoming an accountant. Now that I have completed the course I am glad that I don’t have a massive student loan.”
Michael Morrissey, Partner with Morrissey Chartered Accountants said “When we opened the business back in 2015 we decided to recruit an apprentice to help with the running of the businesses. The course provided Michelle with the skills and knowledge required to complete her daily job and I would encourage businesses others to consider hiring an apprentice.
“Now that Michelle has qualified she is able to carry out more complex projects within the practice. The Higher-Level Apprenticeship provided us with access to talent and has helped us to build our team. “You get an opportunity to train the person to work the way your company needs them to work, and at the same time they are acquiring skills that will make them an asset to the business. Investment in skills and young people is critical for enhancing productivity and building a competitive edge."
Michelle encouraged other school leavers to follow their dreams. She says “If you are interested in accounting, give the apprenticeship a go. If you like it just go for it. Visit the college open day and speak to the tutors. It was the best decision I ever made. “The course allowed me to work towards a third level qualification whilst earning a salary. This is more than just a normal course; it teaches you how to apply your skills and prepares you for life after education. I would encourage others to consider SERC as a first option.”
SERC tutor Sandra Roleston said: "The development of this apprenticeship demonstrates SERC's commitment to working with local business to ensure that our curriculum offer is both relevant and meaningful to support the future growth and expansion of local companies. The higher-level apprenticeships include a combination of 'on and off the job' training. The 'off the job' training element will be delivered by SERC on a day release basis.”