Belfast company's expansion plan set to create 71 jobs
Professional services company Grant Thornton is looking to school-leavers to help fuel its Belfast expansion.
The business has announced the creation of 71 jobs, with an average salary of £16,900, based between its new audit services office at Adelaide Street and its Clarence Street West office.
While the majority - 55 - of the positions will be in audit services, there will also be between 12 and 16 accountant roles.
Invest NI has provided a £202,000 employment grant for the positions, which will be filled by the end of this year.
The jobs will be "a mix of roles", including entry-level positions, Mark Cardiff, head of audit at Grant Thornton UK, said.
But he stressed the posts were good jobs. "We have some school-leaver roles where we are taking people in and essentially training them in aspects of accounting, and we would expect them to come up through the organisation," he added.
"But the sorts of work they are doing is accounting work - it is not administrative work. They will be checking and verifying financial statements to make sure they are of a high quality before they go into filing.
"They will also be carrying out certain aspects of audit work. It is professional work that they are doing, and we are very pleased that we are tapping into a pool of individuals who perhaps would not have had access to this type of work before."
Richard Gillan, partner in charge of Grant Thornton, said there were positive signs for growth in the sector.
"We see massive potential in corporate tax, advisory functions, corporate finance, forensics, and these are all areas which are expanding," he added.
"We are very bullish about the economy as a whole. I think that there is a lot more transactional activity, and that creates a very positive environment for us." Mr Gillan said the company would triple its workforce at its Clarence Street West office by 2018.
"These new positions represent the first step of a growth programme for Grant Thornton in Northern Ireland over the coming years," he added.
"We have in our office (Clarence Street West) at the minute around 55 people, and we would envisage that becoming something closer to 150 in the next three years."
But he also said that securing the devolution of corporation tax - a measure which is subject to a successful resolution of the budget crisis at Stormont - would be crucial to future growth.
Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell added the roles would provide a range of opportunities for people at different stages of their careers.