According to the gradireland 2012 Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey almost half (48.4%) of all graduate jobs created in 2011 were in the accountancy and financial management sector. This far exceeds any other sector, including the high profile IT and telecoms sector which comes in at second with 13.6% of graduate jobs.
Dr Emer Mulligan, Head of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway concurred with the survey findings saying: “On the ground we continue to see strong demand for our graduates locally, nationally and internationally. Recent curriculum changes in our programmes ensure all our graduates have the necessary skills for the workplace and are accordingly in demand by industry.”
With a career in accounting such an attractive prospect, it is surprising that fewer students are choosing accounting at second level. However, although a C1 in leaving certificate accounting is a prerequisite for the BComm Accounting programme at NUI Galway, there is no requirement for accounting for students on the mainstream BComm, as they can specialise in accounting in final year of study.
Current Student Perspective
Students like Ruth Guinane and James O’Brien, both from Galway and studying at NUI Galway, bear out the truth of this survey. Ruth is a student on the BComm (Accounting) and James is a student on the BComm, who has chosen to specialise in Accounting in his final year. Both of these programmes offer the opportunity in second year to apply for an optional international experience year which extends the degree from three to four years. The international experience year typically includes a semester in a university abroad and a semester on placement with a relevant employer.
Ruth spent a semester at the State University of New York at Albany NY and worked on placement for six months with Deloitte in Dublin. “The opportunity to study in the US was fantastic, I got to immerse myself completely in another culture, study different subjects and travel all around New York and even up to Canada. The placement gave me a real insight into my future career and Deloitte have already offered me a training contract when I finish my degree.”
James also opted for the international experience year “I worked at Alkermes Plc. in Athlone for seven months in the accounting department. I learned a lot while working there including the importance of hard work, team work and the need to be flexible as I was presented with different challenges every day. Overall, it was an incredible opportunity; I got experience working in a multi-national pharmaceutical corporation which gave me a great understanding as to what would be expected of me in the workplace. I studied at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. I visited North Carolina, Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, the Jersey Shore and Toronto. It was definitely a semester that I will never forget! I’m in my final year now and the experience was huge help in securing job offers with Accounting firms. It really gave me a taste for international experience and so I have accepted a job with Ernst & Young in Luxembourg, starting next September.&rdqu o;
The BComm at NUI Galway is a three year programme which allows students to specialise in Economics, Marketing, Human Resource Management, Business Information Systems and Accounting. Students who select the international experience year have the opportunity to study abroad and engage in a work placement converting it into a four year programme.