As one door closes, another is opening for Northern Regional College student, William Wilkinson from Ballymena.
Following the announcement in October 2014 that JTI Gallaher’s factory was to close, William decided to retrain and work towards a career in accountancy. He has now reached the first major milestone on that journey by coming third overall in the prestigious Accounting Technicians Ireland (ATI) 2017 summer exams.
The ATI Diploma is an internationally recognised professional qualification to fast-track a career in accounting and finance. William was one of over a thousand students who sat the exams this summer at 16 different locations throughout Ireland. He got a total score of 350 marks, just five behind the top student.
Currently employed as a production operative at Gallaher’s, William was devastated by news that the Ballymena factory was to close with a loss of over 850 jobs but, once he got over the initial shock of facing redundancy in his early 30s, he decided to go back to school to get some further qualifications to improve his employment prospects.
NRC liaised with the company when the redundancies were announced and carried out a skills audit to help the workers obtain relevant qualifications. Now with his sights set on a career in accountancy, William says signing on for the ATI Diploma at NRC was one of his best career moves. Since getting his results, he has been getting experience working with a local accountancy firm and, in the longer term, he plans to continue working towards becoming a Chartered Accountant.