‘Going to college full time didn’t go well with me’

When deciding which career to pursue after secondary school, Denisa Zima knew that a traditional university or college curriculum was not for her. “I didn’t want to go Monday to Friday, 9-5 for another three or four years of experience. I knew I wanted to do something that was more engaging.”

Born in Romania, Zima moved with her family to Dublin at the age of 13. She always had an aptitude for numbers and problem solving, and preferred to work part-time throughout secondary school. When her school guidance counselor introduced her to the Accounting Technician Ireland (ATI) apprenticeship, she knew it was the perfect next step for her.

“I really love working, and the idea of ​​going to college full-time doesn’t fit right with me,” Zima says. “I wanted to gain experience and knowledge immediately after my leaving certificate, and not sit in a class for four years.”

The application process for the apprenticeship includes an application that includes your CV, followed by an interview with ATI. Applicants are then placed on a shortlist that potential employers involved with the apprenticeship program can consult and choose which applicants to call for an interview. Applicants are then called for a final interview, where, if successful, they may be offered a job on the condition that they obtain a reasonable number of marks in the Leaving Certificate Examination, usually in the same subjects as college and There are less marks as compared to university courses. “I think it was more straightforward and user-friendly [than the CAO system],” says Zima.

The apprenticeship itself is a fully funded, work-based learning programme, where apprentices earn at least €19,890 per year. The program is expected to create 125 jobs across the country, and has been the source of 456 apprentice positions since its inception in 2017. ATI now partners with over 302 employers in 17 sectors, a number that continues to grow with each passing year.

Employers are encouraged to sign up for the scheme as they can take advantage of the government annual Aadhaar grant per registered apprentice from the beginning of 2022.