Throughout 2017, major Australian universities — including Macquarie University, UNSW, and Deakin University — admitted that accounting degrees are typically not sufficient to prepare a graduate for working life as an accountant.
Educating students about software is particularly lacking, as universities struggle to keep up with the pace of software development.
While evidence mounts that businesses are losing faith in Aussie universities, Practice Ignition head of accounting and strategic partnerships Trent McLaren believes the education state of play creates an opportunity for IT savvy accountants.
“This year more than ever, highlighted that there is a gap between accounting firm expectation on graduate hires and the skills graduates come out of education with,” Mr McLaren told Accountants Daily.
“This is a problem but an opportunity to actually start doing something about it.
“Whilst some universities like Macquarie are making great in-roads, the majority are still lacking a curriculum that best places graduates into the accounting industry,” he added.
“The fundamentals of accounting will always be important, but when majority of the work is starting to be based around cloud software, tools and applications, it’s imperative these grads get access and exposure to this technology early in their educational journey.”
Mr McLaren believes that a graduate exposed to such software early on will be “best placed to make an impact” on firms they join as they bring along a much desired skill set.
Further, Mr McLaren says firms will be on the lookout for IT savvy accountants in 2018, as more practices continue the adoption of cloud technology.
“As accountants have started to understand the value cloud APIs can deliver, their creative juices will start to flow as they start their journey towards becoming the “digital mechanic”,” said Mr McLaren.
“Any IT savvy accountants are best placed to succeed in 2018.
“If a firm doesn’t have anyone on their team that fits the bill, they will start there.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.