Katoomba student, Katie-Jane Squires, the recent recipient of the TAFE NSW Excellence Award for Technology and Business Student of the Year, is determined to offer her assistance to local communities with their accounting needs.
Whether it be helping them with tax returns or giving financial advice to those with small businesses, Ms Squires said she would also like to mentor young Indigenous people starting out in the finance sector.
There is a high demand for qualified accountant professionals. According to the Australian Government's Job Outlook, the number of accountants grew strongly over the past five years and is expected to grow further over the next five years: from 199,200 in 2018 to 207,200 by 2023. There are likely to be around 84,000 job openings over five years - that is about 16,800 a year.
Ms Squires said she made a career decision when she decided to study an Advanced Diploma of Accounting with TAFE Digital. "I didn't want to invest time in studies for just a job," she said. "I wanted to work hard at getting my foot in the door and to be able to advance in a long-term career."
And undergoing an internship with Ernst and Young steered her in the right direction. "At one stage I was pretty overwhelmed with online study commitments, as well as being the single mother of six gorgeous children, and got to a point where I thought maybe a career in accounting wasn't for me," she said.
"When I received the internship offer from such a prestigious organisation, my doubts quickly dissipated. I was able to get real hands-on accounting experience in one of the most well-known accounting firms, which inspired me to continue and achieve what I set out to do."
"My training with Ernst and Young was a sort of test run for future Indigenous internships at the firm," said Ms Squires. "I stay in touch with the people I worked with, have also become an active member of Indigenous Accountants Australia and have let people in my community know that I'm open to helping them with their accounting requirements as much as I can."
Ms Squires now has an accounting position at Rea and Associates Chartered Accountants.
"I now use the skills I learnt on a daily basis and enjoy doing journals and reconciling ledgers," she said.
She is set to study a Bachelor of Accounting and Financial Management at university next year and said she would not have been able to do so without the support of TAFE Digital and Ernst and Young.