BusinessDay

ACCA wants educators embrace transformation to meet learners’ needs

If learners have to be successful for the future of work and society, educators need to embrace transformation to meet learners’ needs, the association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has said.

This, according to the association, explains why learners and employers are calling out for innovation in learning and development, particularly in the accountancy profession.

“Global analysis from ACCA reveals that educators are not fully meeting the needs of learners or employers when it comes to professional education for accountants and finance professionals,” the association said in a statement in Lagos.

“A good learning and development programme needs to put learners’ characteristics and needs central to its design. But ACCA’s research finds that while educators recognise the importance of this, they struggle to reflect them in their programmes, with 39 percent saying the characteristics of their learners are too diverse for common principles to be included,” the statement added.

A surprising finding in the report ‘Developing the Skills of the Sustainable Business and Finance Professional’ is the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and gamification in learning and development (L&D), with both learners and educators across all age, ranges giving a low positive response rate to these as a way to develop a broad range of capabilities.

This will, in part, be due to a lack of understanding of what gamification and AI are, and what they can achieve as well as fear among tutors that the technology will be complex or that it will make the tutor’s role redundant.

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“The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2030, 90 percent of jobs will demand digital skills. So, educators need to make data and digital central to their L&D programmes. Alongside this, Pearson has estimated that the total market for professional education is expected to grow to £7 trillion by 2030, again reflecting that demand will increase,” Sharon Machado, head of business reporting at ACCA and the report’s author, noted.

Machado noted further that opportunities abound and that’s why ACCA provides a six-point L&D model to help educators flourish and work with professional bodies to create the professionals of the future.

He said that, as part of this research, ACCA asked learners and educators to identify the features of a good L&D system, resulting in six clear and interconnected themes that include relevance which involves meeting learner and stakeholder needs

Other themes are Reliability—delivering learning outcomes that are trusted irrespective of different learning approaches for a given capability or learner, and Motivation—driving the achievement of the learning purpose and supporting lifelong learning

Person and People is also part of the themes. This places learners and their tutors at the heart of learning and the learning approach, at an individual, cohort and community level. There are also Digital and data— supporting the development of L&D strategy and its implementation across content, production, delivery and monitoring, and Sustainability which involves business models that employ an integrated approach to environmental, social and financial matters.

Machado advised that “learners should be seeking these six features and qualities in their L&D, and equally educators should be applying them too in developing, implementing, and monitoring their strategies.

“If educators do, they’ll be well placed to realise the economic opportunities associated with a growing education market and to respond to the vast amounts of regulation that applies to them and the accountancy profession.”

He said that the research also asked educators and learners the best ways to develop core competencies and capabilities. For ethics, 61 percent of educators and 65 percent said work experience or simulations were most appropriate, with gamification seen as the least appropriate. For collaboration, learning from peers and those with more advanced skills was seen as most important, at 77 percent for educators and 74 percent for learners.

Ways of learning were also analysed, with 58 percent of educators and learners saying online learning is at least as good as in-person. Nigeria (56 percent), India (46 percent), and Pakistan (46 percent) rated online as better than in-person, compared to just 23 percent and 25 percent in China and the UK.

“As a result of Covid-19, there’s an even stronger expectation that learning is a 24-hour business. This is a challenge for educators, with the need for continuous innovation to be core to their business strategies. Professional bodies like ACCA are part of this innovation too, and that’s why it is one of our values that drive all we do as an organisation to support educators and learners too,” Machado said.

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