Bridging the employability gap


The world is experiencing an employability crisis; as employers have
vacancies but many young people do not have the appropriate skills to gain

A new report from CIMA, the Chartered Institute of Management
Accountants and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) in the field of accounting
education, entitled Ready for Business - Bridging the employability gap - which is
based on numerous employer interviews that were conducted during the CIMA
syllabus review process - shows that while education can and does improve
employability, there can still be a disconnect between the priorities of educators
and the actual skills needed by students for employment.

Says Samantha Louis, Regional Director of CIMA Africa: "CIMA has taken a direct
approach with employers by conducting comprehensive research into the roles of
management accountants, the skills employers expect of them and how these
are changing. We then developed an updated competency framework around
which the more recent syllabus update took place. As a result our syllabus has
been revised to strengthen competencies and aspects which were highlighted
by employers as critical for employability.

"It?s becoming evident that in many disciplines, not just accounting, that a
combination of core technical skills and a solid understanding of how businesses
operate is becoming increasingly invaluable in the world of work. The work
which CIMA does in keeping its syllabus relevant to employer needs is what
improves the employability of management accountants.'

The report also covers the changing role of finance, or as CIMA and AICPA
refer to this, the finance function transformation.

It highlights current hot topics in the role of the finance function as being:
risk management, finance transformation, Big Data and analytics, sustainability,
integrated reporting, cost leadership, tax in decision making, global awareness
and, of course, ethics.

The top three areas scored as emerging important roles for management
accountants were: analytics and data mining, developments in accounting MIS
and competitive strategies.

Analytics and data-mining scored highest amongst surveyed respondents,
with 65% saying it was very or quite important that this is covered in accounting
education and 83% saying that employers would expect this to be covered at an
intermediate or advanced level. Regarding developments in MIS, 59% said it
was important to cover during education and 89% felt that employers would
expect finance employees to be competent in this. Understanding competition
and competitive strategies scored similarly at 58% and 88% in third place, while
understanding financial reporting standards fell in fourth place with 60% and

Says Ms Louis: "It?s clear that the roles of finance professionals in business
are changing. Management accountants need to be prepared to lead this
transformation. The role of the management accountant has become so broad
that it can be described as being about improving decision making. While
financial accounting skills remain essential, it is the ability to combine financial
expertise with a thorough understanding of the business and the ability to
deliver performance analysis that supports real time decision making that is the
key to future-proofing a career in finance. The finance role in organisations is no
longer just about transactions and accounting, finance employees need to be
equipped and ready to be business partners to management teams in order to
drive the success of the organisation.'

The full report is available for download here
target="_new">CIMA website