The Department of Education and Training has announced a new Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping, superseding the Certificate IV in Bookkeeping and Certificate IV in Accounting.
The changes follow an extensive review by PwC Skills for Australia on behalf of the Financial Services Industry Reference Committee, endorsed by the Australian Industry and Skills Committee.
The bookkeeping industry has also been vocal on the state of education standards in recent times.
The new Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping removes duplication in the previous qualifications and now has eight core units and five elective units.
According to the review, several units of competency in the previous qualifications were identified as out of date, with skills gaps in understanding GST and processing payroll for bookkeeping.
In addition to the new Certificate IV, a new Diploma of Payroll Services has also been introduced, after the review found that existing payroll training was not sufficient for industry requirements.
“Despite payroll’s importance, only limited nationally recognised training is currently available. In addition, no nationally recognised payroll qualifications exist to provide learners with the suite of skills required for a payroll administrator or payroll manager,” the review stated.
Registered training organisations (RTOs) will be given 12 months to develop new resources to align training outcomes in line with the new requirements.
Institute of Certified Bookkeepers chief development officer, Rick Van Dyk, said the changes were welcomed and reflected the modernisation of the profession.
“The Certificate IV in place at the moment simply needed to be modernised and some of the learning outcomes of the current Cert IV needed to be reviewed so it would be more applicable to today’s requirements for a professional bookkeeper,” said Mr Van Dyk.
Having been involved in the consultation process, the ICB believes the new competency units, such as 'FNSACC416 Set up and operate a computerised accounting system' and 'BSBSMB412 Introduce cloud computing into business operations', will provide more contemporary training for bookkeepers.
"There is a unit of competency called ‘set up and operate a computerised accounting system’ – that was a core unit in the Cert IV of Accounting but was not a core for Cert IV in Bookkeeping, but that is very much a core function for bookkeeping,” said Mr Van Dyk.
“Also, in the previous Cert IV there was typically a couple of units where they would get their hands dirty in the software and that would be the payroll unit and the cash and accrual unit.
“Ninety per cent of the training organisations would use MYOB desktop software so the student goes through the whole Cert IV learning process using desktop software and not being educated on what are the options for the cloud,” he added.
“One of the skill sets a bookkeeper really needs is if they are dealing with a client who is using a desktop system, they have to do a business case on why that client is beneficial to switch to the cloud and in that unit it actually has what are the benefits to the business, what are the various options and costing.
“That unit is great because it develops their skill on creating awareness on what cloud solutions are out there, and talking to the business owner and developing a business case, and how to implement that.”
‘The only way is up’
The new chief executive of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), Rochelle Park, was particularly pleased with the new Diploma of Payroll Services.
“If bookkeepers are wanting to expand, this certainly provides them with the confidence that they are recognised for their skills and knowledge,” Ms Park said.
“I think it’s also an indication of the continued maturity of our profession,” she added.
Ms Park noted the Fair Work Ombudsman has made it “very, very clear” that it won’t tolerate non-compliance with payroll obligations, and that inadequate education or ignorance is not a defence.
“Bookkeepers navigating the world of payroll services have never had this level of education available to them in a formalised format. It will very much help towards navigating a complex regulatory environment,” Ms Park said.