RBCA Apprentice Programme offers 20 per cent higher pay and is a launchpad to chartered status

RBCA, a Belfast-based Chartered Accountancy firm, has announced the return of its Apprenticeship Programme, and is calling on school leavers across Northern Ireland to apply. Now in its ninth year, the full-time, two-year programme begins in September and is delivered in the RBCA offices, alongside online evening classes twice a week. Apprenticeships complete invigilated online exams at the end of each year leading to a Level 5 QCF Diploma for Accounting Technicians. Full membership to Accounting Technicians Ireland (ATI) is also provided.

Successful applicants will not be required to pay tuition fees and receive hands-on learning experience in a dynamic office-based environment whilst earning a competitive salary, 20 per cent higher than similar apprenticeships in the past. Modules include Financial Accounting, Taxation, Business Law, and Business Management.

Sarah Airey, now a Manager at RBCA, completed the Apprenticeship Programme in 2018, before going on to secure full-time employment with the firm.

She said, “After completing school, I was uncertain of my next steps. RBCA’s Apprenticeship Programme appealed as it was a practical alternative to the traditional university route and offered the chance to start earning straight from school. From day one, I was immersed in tasks, surrounded by supportive mentors who invested their time in me, and challenged to reach my full potential.

Accounting is a varied but rewarding career. I’ve learned it’s about more than number-crunching but becoming a trusted advisor for business owners.”

As Northern Ireland’s businesses navigate unpredictable economic shifts, trusted advice has become a lifeline to the 120,000 SMEs that form the backbone of the local economy. Yet, according to a recent Intuit QuickBooks survey of accountancy firms, 92 per cent have experienced hiring challenges.

As Jane Gill, a Director at RBCA who manages the Apprenticeship Programme, explains, accountancy firms must help entry-level talent to develop the right skills. She said, “Talent is essential in helping the industry continue to provide the best counsel to clients. Industry leaders must provide the right learning environment for young people to grow, and our Apprenticeship Programme reflects our dedication and commitment to nurturing the skills of young professionals. We have developed the programme with guidance from Accounting Technician Ireland, to ensure it provides apprentices the resources and experiences they need to develop both technical and practical skills so they can become critical-thinkers, problem-solvers and relationship-builders, all of which are essential in the modern world of accounting.”

RBCA, which was founded in 2010, now employs 20 people, and has set a leading example in gender diversity, having achieved and maintained a 50:50, male to female split since 2010. This commitment is also reflected at senior level with 50 per cent of senior roles held by females, compared to an average of 20 per cent industry wide. It recently invested in a new Belfast city centre office to accommodate its continued growth, which Ross Boyd, founder and director, credits to a positive workplace culture.

He explained, “Our headcount has grown by 25 per cent in the last two years, to accommodate our continued client acquisition. Talent and growth are entirely correlated, so we recognise how important it is to be progressive and invest in human capital. After all, businesses that prioritise diversity, inclusion, and flexibility, are proven to have higher retention. These employee demands are becoming clearer not only post-pandemic, but also as Gen Z, now aged up to 26, are becoming more present in the workforce, accounting for 27 percent by 2025.  I’m extremely proud of our team, and our commitment to our apprentices and graduates, and I look forward to providing more entry-level accountants with meaningful opportunities this year.”

Applicants to the RBCA Apprenticeship Programme must have 96 UCAS points from any A-Level subject combination, along with a B in GCSE Maths and a C in GCSE English. Applications are now open. To find out more visit rbca.co or send a CV to [email protected].

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