Furloughed worker Claire uses her time to retrain towards a new accountancy career

18 Mar 2021


Claire McDonagh was, like many others, furloughed during COVID-19. Claire had worked in her Sales Assistant role for just one month before the country went into lockdown and she was furloughed, leaving her with lots of time on her hands.

Claire explained: “Due to COVID I was furloughed, so it left me with some time to really think about my future and what I actually wanted to do with my life, and where I wanted to go with regards to a career. After searching the internet for different courses, career advice and the types of jobs that were in demand, I started to look into accountancy, and came across the St Helens Chamber website that had loads of useful information on it.

“I spoke to a careers advisor, who was extremely helpful and booked me onto one of the Chamber’s free short courses.”

Once Claire had honed in on wanting to pursue a career in accountancy, being furloughed and in a lockdown was not going to stop her from pursuing her goal.

Claire continued: “I found an AAT Level 1 bookkeeping course advertised, free of charge which was great, and the careers advisor I spoke to booked me on. After a little discussion, she also booked me on a Microsoft Essentials course so that I could brush up on a few things that I hadn’t used for a little while.

“I was really excited about starting the course, but also a little nervous as well as I was unsure about starting to study again at my age, but I really had nothing to worry about. It turns out that being furloughed was actually a blessing in disguise!”

The AAT Level 1 Bookkeeping course is FREE to anyone aged 19+ living in the Liverpool City Region. Usually delivered at St Helens Chamber, during the lockdown the course was delivered remotely by expert tutor, Emmanuel.

Claire commented: “I began my study with Emmanuel, who is an absolutely fantastic tutor, I really can’t speak highly enough about him. He has a very relaxed, but professional manner which puts you at ease straight away and he is extremely knowledgeable about the subject he teaches. He is also happy enough to teach at a pace that suits you and is very adaptable.

“I flew through my level 1 Bookkeeping and because I enjoyed the course so much I decided to enrol on the free AAT level 2 bookkeeping qualification, which I enrolled for a couple of days before my final bookkeeping exam. It has all felt like a bit of a whirlwind, but I have enjoyed every minute of it.”

Claire showed a clear passion and talent for accountancy, backed up by these prestigious qualifications which she gained completely free training with St Helens Chamber. These free, nationally recognised qualifications made Claire stand out to employers, and ensured that she was ready and able to join an accountancy business.

Claire explained: “I decided to add my new qualifications to my CV and I was contacted by EMR, who were impressed with what they saw. They asked me to complete some assessments and offered me an interview with the hiring manager the same day. Less than half an hour after the interview, I got a call back from their HR department saying that he was very impressed and would like me to complete an Excel test (so I’m glad I did the Microsoft Essentials course just a few months back!).

“The very next day, after having a 2nd interview, I received another call from EMR offering me the position as Commercial Accounts Administrator. I was in shock! I had managed to secure a fantastic job, with great pay, bonuses, benefits and a clear progression path and it is all thanks to the St Helens Chamber and Emmanuel as I just wouldn’t have even been considered for this type of position without them.”

St Helens Chamber have a range of free short courses available, designed with employers to give trainees the exact skills that employers are looking for; along with support from Career Coaches who can help with CV’s, interview skills and much more.

Claire added: “If you are thinking about a change in career, wanting to improve yourself or know of anyone that may be struggling and needs a bit of a confidence boost, I can honestly recommend contacting the Chamber, getting some advice and starting one of their courses.”

To find out more about St Helens Chamber’s range of free short courses, call on 01744 698800 or email info@thestartingpoint.org