New Society Committee Focuses on Accounting Education for Next Generation

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jun 6, 2017

 

From new technology to shifting client demands, the accounting profession has found itself in a period of rapid change, and accounting education has to change with it. In order to meet the challenges that come with these changes, the NYSSCPA has formed a new Academic Advancement and Higher Education Committee, which aims to bring together all stakeholders in the education of the next generation of CPAs. 

Chair Cynthia A. Scarinci, an accounting professor at the College of Staten Island, said that with the launching of the new CPA exam—which emphasizes task-based simulations over multiple choice questions—she thought it was important that there be a Society-level committee devoted to looking at issues relating to how students prepare to transition into the workplace and what educators need to do in order to help them. 

The committee will have a broad focus, encompassing not just accounting educators but also what potential employers expect from the students they teach, and so Scarinci hopes the committee will attract a diverse array of members from across the profession. The committee structure reflects this, as it’s organized to include several subcommittees devoted to particular areas, such as high school students, college students, licensure requirements, exam preparation and employer needs. Scarinci said that these groups can be sounding boards to discuss issues relevant to accounting education, as well as bases for further collaboration: What are employers looking for in their new hires, and how can educators help their students meet these expectations? 

For example, she said many firm leaders have reported a need for new hires with soft skills. While technology has done much to facilitate communication, Scarinci said firms are finding that new graduates often lack the face-to-face interpersonal skills they need to be effective in the workplace. Similarly, she has heard employers lament a lack of writing skills among new graduates, and ask that education include more preparation for things like preparing workpapers or professional emails. 

“In years past, you had to think about it, you had to put pen to paper and write it out, so there’s a little more cognitive effort. Nowadays not as much, and students need to be reminded of that,” she said. “They’re also used to jargon [when] they’re texting each other, and you can’t use jargon in a professional environment.” 

At the same time, the committee also will establish communication channels with firms so that they can let firms know about the issue they’re facing in educating their future employees. 

NYSSCPA Immediate Past President F. Michael Zovistoski said, “This committee has a very different mission than the Higher Education Committee of the past. The committee will tackle some of the most critical issues facing accounting education right now, most notably, how technology is dramatically shifting what firms need from new recruits. With these changes will come necessary amendments to the law and accounting regulations, and the committee will play a large role in recommending to the Society Board what those changes should be.” 

While Scarinci anticipates that, at first, the committee will have a largely academic focus, she hopes that it will eventually contain members from public accounting firms, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and other employers.  

“I think we are the representatives for both the students and the employers, so I think it’s important for us to be available to hear what employers have to say and what they’re looking for in students, to hear from students about what they think they need, and to try to make the two match so they can better prepare for the workplace and become CPAs,” she said. 

The Academic Advancement and Higher Education Committee held its first meeting on April 28. NYSSCPA members interested in joining the committee can contact Nereida Gomez at ngomez@nysscpa.org.

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