Speaking on the ATO’s tax professionals webcast, ATO assistant commissioner Colin Walker said the tax profession would need “adaptive skills” to thrive in the future as it learns to juggle data analytics.
Mr Walker said: “The challenge for me and the ATO going forward is very much to say how do we work with agents and the professional associations and the educational institutions to ensure that we are equipping the agents of tomorrow with the right skill sets to be good agents of tomorrow whilst at the same time understanding any gaps that are beginning to appear so that we can all work towards alerting people to the gaps we are seeing so the agents of today can skill up on those things.
“This profession is not dropping in numbers; it is growing and continues to grow, so we need to build that growth into the future.”
Morris and Associates tax principal Mark Morris said the tax profession has constantly adapted to change from the days of handwriting letters to utilising online portals, but he believes the accounting syllabus is in need of a revamp to keep on top of the changing tax landscape.
“In terms of universities, we can’t teach tax the same way we have over the last 30 years. I think the analysis of data, the use of data has to be integrated into the syllabus so that people not only become literate but computer literate,” said Mr Morris, who is also a professor of practice at La Trobe University.
“Because the skill sets are going to be different, I’m not sure what is going to happen with compliance. I just have a sense we will have less of it certainly in the way we’re currently experiencing, but it seems to me we have to teach young people to be adaptive and have a whole range of skills that are going to make them more useful when they hit the job market.
“It would be great if there were some emphasis on data analytics in accounting but also soft skills like the ability to negotiate, the ability to work in teams, those kinds of skills which I think are really fundamental.”