Speaking to Accountants Daily, Padmore City founder, James McPhedran believes the accounting industry suffers from a dearth of job-ready graduates because of the lack of mandatory on-the-job training that graduates in the medical and engineering fields typically undergo.
The accounting industry has long grappled with the state of education in the sector, with universities conceding that a typical three-year undergraduate program is insufficient in ensuring graduates are job ready, leaving students to source for internships and placements to achieve readiness.
In contrast, engineering undergraduates typically have to undergo a period of industry training, while medicine undergraduates are offered clinical placements.
“So the other professions tend to turn out more work ready graduates than our profession,” said Mr McPhedran.
“The problem with current accounting and financial services education is that all the information is delivered in the abstract.
“We churn out graduates and they might do some kind of capstone project off the back of the third year of commerce studies that attempts to do that, but that practical learning experience is not embedded throughout the whole degree.”
In a bid to fill this training gap, Mr McPhedran has worked to develop Padmore City, an online platform featuring a virtual fictional city that allows accountants to get hands-on training through interacting with different businesses and taxpayers.
According to Mr McPhedran, the content for each scenario is provided from a pool of tax experts, and partners from former big four and mid-tier firms and will be updated to complement the seasonal requirements within an accounting firm.
“So say for example around lodgment time, mid-May there’s going to be a lot of content on lodging individual returns, company returns, trust returns. Around 1 July 2019 there’ll be a lot obviously on single touch payroll and all those changes coming in,” said Mr McPhedran.
“It's trying to get new entrants to the profession get them to develop their skills and capabilities so they become problem solvers quickly.”
The platform, which goes live today, has received its biggest stamp of endorsement by way of the ATO adopting it to train its 2019 graduate intake.
“There’s a bit of a knowledge gap within the ATO about them not really understanding why people set up a structure and they tend to think, well you did it because of tax,” he said.
“But tax is probably reason number six out of, you know, nine reasons that you might set up a business structure. So, it's trying to get to develop the real world skills and capabilities of the ATO graduates.”
According to Mr McPhedran, the platform has been taken up by five local offices of mid-tier accounting firms with plans to expand nationally.