ACCA advocates change in learning strategies to produce future-ready professionals
Accountants under the aegis of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) have canvassed a change in the learning strategies for accountants so as to produce professionals that are both industry and future-ready.
The accountants, who were worried about the state of the accountancy profession not just in Nigeria, but also in Africa, said that the profession has to improve in such a way that it has to surpass what Artificial Intelligence (AI) can do.
At a round table event on the ‘State of the Profession in Africa’ hosted by ACCA in Lagos recently, Taiwo Oyedele, Partner, Fiscal Policy and Africa Leader at PwC, noted that number was not the problem of the profession as there were estimated 123,000 accountancy and finance professionals that are members of Professional Accountancy Organisations (PAOs) in Africa.
Reviewing a report on the state of the profession in Africa which ACCA produced in collaboration with PAFA and PwC, Oyedele noted that the accountancy profession played a key role in the socio-economic development of Africa.
“There is a correlation between the concentration and capacity of accountancy and finance professionals on one hand and the level of GDP or overall economic well-being. As society evolves, the profession must constantly challenge itself not only to remain relevant, but also to self-disrupt, re-invent, future-proof and shape the future,” he said.
According to him, the study engaged 1,762 accountancy and finance professionals including 228 from Nigeria while they adopted a 4-phase approach including desk research, quantitative survey, qualitative survey, analysis and reporting compiling the report.
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“We analysed the results through four themes–capabilities, partnerships, influencing and future readiness,” he said, adding, there are skills shortages which calls for capacity building.
“Emerging areas and tech PAOs are a major driver of development, and have prioritised licensing as well as self-regulation,” he said, adding that student education and Continuing Professional Education (CPE) need to revise learning strategies to address public sector concerns.
Oyedele said there was need to optimise strategic alliances among stakeholders in key areas such as curriculum development, public policy formulation, and practical training just as fusing PAO and regulatory functions was also key.
He said that even though the profession was building ethical and sustainable business and contributing to professionalising public sector institutions, there was need for it to be involved in influencing policies and programmes and do more.
“Top future altering trends, digital transformation of the accountant’s function, expanding skill sets, increased availability and supply of qualified accountants, and increased adoption of global international standards are some of the things the professional needs to do to make it future-ready,” he said.
Oyedele noted that “the report establishes opportunities to focus professional development efforts, informs national and regional development planning, guides engagements with development partners and approach to transforming the profession in Africa.”
To address the skill shortages in the profession, Onafowolokan Oluyombo, a professor at the Department of Accounting School of Management and Social Sciences, Pan African University, recommended that the profession should embrace technology; be abreast of emerging issues and develop the professionals.
He suggested further that to make the professionals industry-ready, those from the industry should be brought in to teach the profession in higher schools as such teachers have industry experience and can teach that better.
He noted that both technology and digitisation have caused disruptions in the profession and therefore accountants should brace up to make themselves not only relevant, but also ready for the future.