More than “Just” an Exam: The Positive Impact of Accounting Technicians in Sri Lanka
Jazri Magdon Ismail, President, AAT Sri Lanka, and Sarah Gagnon, Technical Manager, IFAC | June 21, 2019
As Sri Lanka strives to become an upper middle-income country, its professional accountancy organizations have taken important steps to strengthen the accountancy profession and meet the needs of growing businesses.
In the 1980s, Sri Lanka’s economy needed additional accountants for both day-to-day practical accounting work and for key operational roles producing reliable financial information. Based on Asian Development Bank research and a gap analysis by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, it became clear an accounting technician qualification could help bridge the supply and demand gap.
AAT Sri Lanka was established in 1987 to help close this gap. It is Sri Lanka’s sole professional accountancy organization committed to developing and delivering professional training that leads to the accounting technician qualification. Since then, we have produced over 34,000 qualified accounting technicians that support evolving business needs and growth.
As technology and digitalization continue to transform the accountancy profession, so to must the skillset of the accounting technician. In Sri Lanka, we expect more analytical, creative, and critical thinking will be needed to add value to businesses.
To help us meet evolving needs, our Technical Panel reviews our curriculum at least once every five years to adapt to market trends and demands. The Panel considering how the curriculum, examination questions, and performance of technicians can be improved—thereby ensuring overall qualification quality. For example, study materials are available in three languages—Sinhala, Tamil and English—and prepared by a technically and professionally qualified lecturer panel.
We’ve also partnered with other education providers, recognizing them as Accredited Education Centers. We ensure these partners meet our stringent education standards and are subject to regular review and training from AAT Sri Lanka. These Centers are located throughout Sri Lanka—a unique feature of our organization—enabling all Sri Lankans access to an accountancy career, and illustrating our service to the entire nation.
This service to Sri Lanka and the public interest is evident in the 300,000+ students enrolled in our education programs—the highest number of students in an educational institute in the country! AAT Sri Lanka offers an alternative option for the 60% of students who qualify to apply for the state universities but are unable to attend. A major draw for our young people is that they can begin pursuing the qualification immediately after completing high school examinations—plus our program can help quell employment opportunity anxieties.
AAT Sri Lanka’s qualification is more than just passing an exam. It is about contributing to a skilled labor force that supports Sri Lanka’s overall development.
We have also launched initiatives to support job training and placement opportunities and fostered a well-recognized rapport with audit firms and corporations in Sri Lanka. We have created a business school to develop the techno-managerial competencies that increase employment prospects. We also include a one-year training component within the qualification that will ultimately equip candidates to undertake the work expected of a middle-level accountant. AAT’s career guidance and courses are free-of-charge for our students and allow many students to secure employment quickly.
With three decades of experience, AAT Sri Lanka is now focused on ensuring that our students and members receive the education and continuous development they need to pursue more dynamic opportunities. For example, more emphasis is now placed on the development of soft skills, such as creative and innovative thinking. Embracing digital transformation, we will also move to a more customer-oriented, online interface to foster closer interaction with our members. We also continue to develop relationships with public and private organizations and industry domestically and abroad to explore more opportunities and recognition for the qualification.
With a strong code of ethics and disciplinary procedures in place, AAT Sri Lanka maintains the trust and confidence of national and international stakeholders. Our stakeholders know that AAT Sri Lanka-qualified accounting technicians can meet the myriad of client needs while maintaining professional integrity.
We hope that every professional accountancy organization sees that the accounting technician qualification can make a positive impact not only for business and the economy but in the lives of everyday citizens.
Accounting technicians play important roles in many jurisdictions as an accounting technician qualification is frequently a pathway into the accountancy profession. As a resource for professional accountancy organizations creating an accounting technician designation as an additional pathway into the profession, IFAC and AAT’s Illustrative Competency Framework for Accounting Technicians facilitates dialogue and enhances knowledge sharing. This article is a part of that dialogue.