CPA Australia will dispatch “ambassadors” to high schools in the hope of recruiting the next generation of tax professionals.
Take a lesson, teens, from one who knows: accounting’s cool!
CPA Australia is launching a charm offensive in schools to persuade teenagers that being an accountant is a more attractive path to success than joining the ranks of wannabe influencers.
The professional body said something had to be done to address a 34 per cent decline in accounting graduates over the past five years, and skilled migration alone would fail to bridge the gap.
The Member Ambassador Pilot program was designed to attract the next generation of tax professionals, CEO Andrew Hunter said, because homegrown talent was key.
“We must ensure young people are aware of the opportunities in accounting,” he said. “High school students need to know that a career in accounting has a purpose and is valuable and rewarding. They need this information before they choose a degree.”
“Accounting provides challenging and rewarding opportunities in broad industries, from music and arts to banking and start-ups. Accounting offers opportunities to travel, improve local communities and work on the frontline of assessing climate impacts.
“Our member ambassadors want to show young people that accounting is a diverse field filled with opportunities.”
Townsville-based Shanna Hunter, who owns Hunter Taxation Services, said it was “scary knowing that there may not be staff coming through for us”.
Ms Hunter will be one of the first ambassadors and said her CPA division was unusual in already reaching out to local high schools.
“We do a high school student breakfast every year,” she said. “We ask local businesses to sponsor a teacher and two students to come along and learn about accounting as career choice.
“From this, every year, I'm then asked to go to a couple of these schools and talk to them about my career journey, why I chose public practice.”
She said the ambassador program would spread the idea right across Australia with specific goals, shared resources – even a T-shirt!
“The program allows schools and universities to contact the CPA member ambassador, and then we go out to them. Sometimes people aren't confident enough to go out and just talk. This will make it a bit easier with slides and a bit of a structure to the conversation.”
It would also target students in years 8 to 10, before they made critical choices.
“This program will help us get in at an earlier age, where we can show them that accounting is cool and there’s so much you can do.”
“From people's career journeys they learn more about accounting and the different paths that they could take.”
Mr Hunter said the program would need to be backed up by support at federal level with lower study fees.
“In the upcoming budget the government should reduce student contributions and increase Commonwealth contributions to the cost of degrees in areas of shortage, including accounting,” he said.
“By increasing the government contribution, we expect to see increased student enrolments in accounting.”