Industry is calling for ‘real world qualified’ accounting graduates
Where is the system failing students? How best can students be prepared for the world of work?
Key points (backed by statistics) include… • Major concerns shared by eight out of 10 firms about how prepared school leavers are for employment (FSB ‘Voice of Small Business' Survey June 2012) • One in five new graduates unemployed in Q4 last year – extra skills/work experience help when trying to stand out from the crowd (Association of Accounting Technicians) • Competitive jobs market – applications to accounting and professional firms have increased by a third over the last year (High Fliers Research 2012) • Despite graduate vacancies at the leading accounting and professional services firms appearing to have peaked after three consecutive years of significant increases, they have remained among the largest recruiters of graduates in 2012 (High Fliers Research 2012: ‘The largest individual recruiters of graduates in 2012 will be PwC (1,200 vacancies), Deloitte (1,200 vacancies), the Teach First scheme (1,000 vacancies), KPMG (800 vacancies) and Ernst & Young (740 vacancies)’) • With a third of UK CFOs possessing a chartered accountancy qualification and another third a business degree, education/training that marries these two ‘seed’ qualifications is surely common-sense (Ernst & Young Finance Forte report February 2011: ‘37% of Group CFOs in UK have a chartered accountancy qualification, compared to 33% who have a business/accountancy degree, and 15% who have an MBA’)
Proposed content – outline… • Background re graduate employment – business/finance sector specific • Why it is time for accounting/finance to move beyond its one dimensional reputation – how a new generation of ‘super qualified’ graduates can help • If the world is truly being increasingly ‘run by accountants’, let us make sure they are schooled in the right way – call for action • ‘Soft skills must be integrated into accounting/finance experience – why so important • Why business-education partnership may be key to creating work-ready graduates – Birkbeck-ICAEW partnership case study • Critics say universities need to be seen as independent voices in society – that business partnership echoes the problem with economics, i.e. commercial interests create ulterior motives, stopping decision makers from being appropriately objective • Dedication to the education of working people’ has been Birkbeck’s historic mission since 1823 – then a concept so contentious founder Dr George Birkbeck was accused of 'scattering the seeds of evil' • Birkbeck is openly promoting a new course as ‘commercial’ in nature – in that the degree programme (tailored by all parties involved (academic/industry body/student/employer)) delivers a carefully predetermined skill set to graduates ensuring they finish their studies ready to thrive in specific business roles • As result, these graduates will be highly employable – surely a good thing considering the challenging employment landscape