At the World Congress of Accounting Educators and Researchers, sister event to the World Congress of Accountants, ACCA were presenting their new research report, Learning for the Future. After talking to employers, providers and accountants themselves, ACCA produced this global piece of research, which builds on Professional Accountants – the future.

The session began with a Jamie Lyons, from the ACCA Insights team, making a presentation and then moved to responses from a panel of invited guests, of whom I was one. I was keen to make the point that particularly among those members who do not work for ACCA approved employers, there is already a culture of self-curated learning, so they should not underestimate their members. 75% of members on the unit route for CPD pay for all or part of their own CPD, which definitely makes you think seriously about what you need and whether it is value for money.

The Learning for the Future report explores the implications for learning and professional development in the fast-changing world we now live in. Four key changes in workplace learning are identified:

  1. Technology in learning
  2. The evolving workplace
  3. The idea of self-curated learning, and
  4. Flexibility in career

The discussion was then opened up to the floor by Session Chair, ACCA’s Brendan Sheehan. The audience was largely comprised of academics. 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.

Personally, I have found there has always been a divide 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, in my perspective, was exactly right. 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…