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ACCA sees a decade of opportunity ahead for young professionals

For young professionals, especially the Generation Z class, it is a piece of good news as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) say there is a decade of opportunity ahead for them in that profession.

ACCA highlights the aspirations and fears of this up-and-coming generation of young professionals, whose ages range from 18 to 25, while also offering employment advice for them and employers alike.

The association, in a report titled ‘Groundbreakers: Gen Z and the Future of Accountancy’ which sought the views of 9,000 persons in this class including 87 from Nigeria, reveals that 76 percent of Nigerian respondents, which is the highest global score, sees accountancy as an attractive career.

The profession, according to these respondents, provides long term prospects and portability with access to jobs that span internationally and across industries.

The report points out, however, that this generation is concerned about the future with 61 percent identifying lack of job opportunities and job security as a concern. This is a global average of 58 percent.

“Just under half – 49 percent—of Nigerian Generation Z are concerned about their wellbeing and mental health,” the report says, revealing that, as employers, the profession is missing opportunities to attract more young people to its ranks.

As part of their worry, Nigeria-based Generation Z respondents question the motives of the business world such that only 36 percent of them agrees business is fighting climate change; 37 percent agrees business leaders have integrity and do what they say.

Continuing, the report reveals 31 percent saying business prioritises and takes good care of employees. However, a significant 77 percent also believes that business has a positive impact on wider society.

Findings in the report are mixed. Thomas Isibor, head of ACCA Nigeria, says the report present both challenges and opportunities for the accountancy profession and business in Nigeria and globally.

“That’s because Generation Z will demand more accountability from the leaders of the organisations in which they work, and they’ll also have high expectations of their work–life balance and how employee welfare is managed,” Isibor explained.

According to him, looking at their own peer group, Nigerian Generation Z is determined. The proof is that a massive 94 percent of them say they are ambitious to progress quickly while 94 percent value work life-balance and flexibility.

“As expected, they’re also tech savvy and this is shown by 94 percent of them that say they’re very comfortable with technology and pick up new tech fast. The same number says technology will enable finance professionals to focus on high-value-added activity,” Isibor added.

But something has to be done to help these young ones navigate their future. ACCA’s report, therefore, recommends ways they can future-proof their own careers, and realise their career dreams as work changes.

Among other things, they should care for their health and build resilience just as they should remember work is a team game, tech helps to build connections, and there are brilliant opportunities ahead to learn from others in the workplace.

These young ones should also seek mentors and sponsors from different generations to provide them with essential support to help ‘fill in the blanks’ and give them vital knowledge and wisdom from years of experience because this is very valuable.

They should continuously learn because this is about being future-proofed, about learning new knowledge, but about being adaptable and proactive and having an open mindset to get new skills and to future-proof their competence.

“Recognise the importance of the ‘early years’. The only person ultimately accountable for your career is yourself, and as a young person entering the workforce, it’s critical to recognise the importance of the ‘early years’ in work,” the report also recommends.

It recommends further that these young ones should build life-long networks, keep connected and build a strong external network to expand learning opportunities and new career opportunities, explaining that time invested in important personal relationships over the long term will always pay dividends.

“Pursue your dreams,” the report advises, noting that the pandemic’s making many rethink careers and jobs in accountancy are changing, offering fantastic opportunities to contribute and make a difference.

They have to pursue things that interest them, that provide purpose and career fulfillment. And even if they haven’t decided yet, finding something that interests them and at which they can become good will reap benefits longer term.

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