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Meet the Laois woman who came from Spain to work as an au pair but upskilled in accountancy

A Portlaoise woman who first came to Ireland from Spain to work as an au pair has gone into a whole different career thanks to an accounting qualification programme at Portarlington Further Education and Training Centre.

Elia Fernandez is now accounts administrator at Pat Fogarty Lawnmowers – a successful garden machinery business at Clonkeen

The 37-year-old mother-of-three had been a full-time homemaker prior to beginning the Diploma course, having previously worked as an au pair, customer service agent, receptionist, and later as a bookkeeper in a business venture with her husband.

She developed a love for accounting working in the family business which saw her in charge of bookkeeping and administration.

She gained one of the top marks in the country in the Accounting Technicians Ireland (ATI) Diploma exams.

The qualification is recognised as the fastest pathway to a fulfilling and rewarding professional accounting career.

“As a mature student after a lengthy career break, the prospects of finding a job were daunting. The Accounting Technicians Ireland Diploma gave me the tools I needed to be where I am now,” said Elia.

“I was born in Spain, and moved to Ireland in 2005 as an au pair to improve my English.”

During a career-break to look after her three children, Elia settled on the Accounting Technicians Ireland Diploma to further her career.

She said: “A friend of mine had begun the Accounting Technicians Ireland Diploma at Portarlington Further Education and Training Centre.

“Her feedback was very impressive. It seemed like the perfect fit considering my love for numbers and previous experience.

“The Accounting Technicians Ireland Diploma has been invaluable. Over the past few months, I’ve assisted Pat with the change from sole trader to limited company.

“It has been a major process, but an exciting journey during which I relied heavily on the knowledge I gained.”

Elia studied full-time for the Diploma at Portarlington Further Education Centre.

She said: “The level of support from centre director Margaret Morrin, and the teacher were outstanding, especially during the switch to online learning and exams during the pandemic.

“Becoming a qualified Accounting Technician makes your CV stand out regardless of experience, a testament to the quality of the Diploma.

“As well as now working full-time, I am also studying with CPA (Certified Public Accountants) Ireland to become a fully qualified accountant.”

Enrolment for the next academic year of the Accounting Technicians Ireland Diploma, starting in September, is now open.

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