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New Year's day fireworks and celebrations in Sydney

World Congress of Accountants: Learning for the future

12th Nov 2018
Managing Director
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In his final dispatch from the World Congress of Accountants, Alan Nelson reports on the ACCA's presentation of its new research report, Learning for the Future.

The Learning for the Future report is the result of a major global piece of research talking to employers, providers and accountants themselves. Building on the work of the previous report, Professional Accountants – the future, the new report explores the implications for learning and professional development of the dynamic world we now live in, where the certainties of a few years ago have been replaced by evolving and stimulating opportunities.

Four dynamics of change in workplace learning are identified: technology in learning, the evolving workplace, the idea of self-curated learning, and career flexibility.

The session began with a presentation from Jamie Lyons of the ACCA Insights team, then moved to responses from a panel of invited guests, of whom I was one.

I was keen to make the point that they should not underestimate their members. Particularly among those members who do not work for ACCA-approved employers, there is already a culture of self-curated learning. More than 75% of members on the unit route for CPD finance all or part of their own CPD, and you can bet that paying for yourself makes you think seriously about what you need and whether it is delivering value for money.

Then the session Chair, ACCA’s Brendan Sheehan, opened up the discussion to the floor. The audience was largely comprised of academics and the conversation focused on the tension between meeting the professional bodies’ accreditation requirements on the one hand and finding space in the curriculum for developing the sort of problem-solving and critical thinking that employers say they are looking for, on the other.

For me, there has always been a disconnect between what students think they are getting when opting for an accounting and finance degree, and the low level of exemptions they actually get from professional exams.

Brendan’s summary at the end was for me spot on. The report has highlighted an expectations gap between what employers want and the young graduates they are recruiting, but it cannot recommend all the appropriate solutions. So, this is just the beginning of the conversation.

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