Last week, the UNSW Business School said a typical three-year program is insufficient in preparing undergraduates to be fully ‘job ready’, with internships and extra-curriculum activities necessary to prepare for the workforce.
Since then, several accounting graduates have contacted Accountants Daily in agreeance.
Management accountant Michael Johnson, who did his undergraduate degree at the University of Wollongong and is currently studying to be a Chartered Accountant, said in a LinkedIn discussion that “universities are failing to keep up with the expanding roles of accountants across the board.”
“Technology is rapidly changing the landscape and nature of work and the first university to commit to a forward-focused curriculum will have the most job-ready candidates,” Mr Johnson said.
Head of accounting and strategic partnerships at Practice Ignition, Trent McLaren, spent time working alongside graduates in his role at Intuit, and equally found tertiary education is insufficient preparation for prospective accountants.
“Graduates spend three or more years learning technical skills, with no focus on business acumen, tools or technology except for outdated legacy desktop solutions,” Mr McLaren told Accountants Daily.
“Firms are looking for graduates who can communicate well with clients, understand the technical skills and be able to advise or coach clients on opportunities available to the small business owner,” he said.
“Who’s teaching these soft skills to grads? Not the universities,” he added.
Mr McLaren cited the spiking popularity of external training providers as a result of the deficiencies in the university education system, including providers like GradMentor, which launched in 2013.
Grad Mentor founder Alisdair Barr is similarly finding employers are looking for accountants with emotional intelligence and an ability to establish relationships with clients beyond their technical offerings.
“Technical education is one thing, but with the advancement of technology, new skills are required in the modern accounting firm and with future accountants,” Mr Barr told Accountants Daily.
“Technology is actually increasing the need for the future accountant to building better relationships with their new and existing clients,” he said.