THE Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS) has hit on a way to ease the shortage of accounting technicians and give mid-career job seekers entry into the profession at the same time.

It has launched a training programme to make accounts assistants out of mid-career job seekers - even those without prior experience in accounting; the programme even emplaces these job seekers in companies first before putting them on the training programme.

The programme, called the Accounts Assistant Place-and-Train Programme (AAPnT), is managed by ICPAS and funded by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA).

The training lasts between 12 and 18 months, depending on the training provider the employer chooses.

The WDA will pay a "training allowance" that is equivalent of 70 per cent of the trainee's basic salary.

Upon completion of training to introduce them to the skills and knowledge needed for a position as an accounting technician, the trainees earn the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) qualification.

The AAPnT scheme thus does double duty of helping mid-career job seekers and supporting the accounting industry's manpower needs, said ICPAS and WDA.

ICPAS chief executive officer Lee Fook Chiew said: "With the tightening of the labour supply this year, many firms are faced with a shortage of accounting technicians. The AAPnT aims to address the shortage of accounting technicians and facilitate the recruitment process. It will re-train workers for new careers in the accountancy profession."

Director of creative and professional services at WDA Azzli Jamain said the trainees can also pursue higher qualifications to become chartered public accountants later.