IFAC, the World Bank and the Arab Federation of Accountants and Auditors (AFAA) hosted a webinar on June 21, 2022 to encourage regional collaboration, foster collaboration with those who influence the accounting education system, and provide access to experts (for more information, see Accountancy Education Ecosystems Are Complex. Our Ability to Attract Potential Accountants Suffers).
As part of a pilot project targeting accountancy education in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), IFAC launched the first bi-annual virtual PAO Knowledge Exchange for Accountancy Education Directors in MENA to provide a forum for conversation amongst peers on the unique challenges and opportunities we face within the profession in the region. The first knowledge exchange in the series, which attracted 125 registrants and 93 live participants, focused on how professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) can address the need for more high-quality professional accountants in MENA.
The session kicked off with a presentation from Ms. Efi M. Marcou, Head of Learning and Development at the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Cyprus (ICPAC). Efi shared ICPAC’s experiences and initiatives increasing the number of high-quality professional accountants in the jurisdiction. Following the presentation, participants discussed perspectives from their respective countries.
In Cyprus, while the number of graduate accountants increased by 19.5% between 2014-2021, the number of students simultaneously decreased by 28.4%. After acknowledging the challenge at hand, ICPAC decided that it needed to not only increase the number of students in the pipeline, but to also increase the number retained after graduating. To do so, ICPAC first secured a firm strategic commitment from its Board to embed this area of focus in its day-to-day operations. This enabled ICPAC to allocate resources at hand to undertake specific, practical actions targeting tertiary education, secondary education, and the general public as detailed in the slides below.
The full recording of the presentation can be viewed below or at the IFAC YouTube channel.
PAOs need to step down and get closer to the stakeholder group that we as a profession are trying to embrace—we must make ourselves visible and accessible to students. We must also keep up to date with current accounting technology to avoid finding ourselves at a disadvantage in the war for talent. Given the rapid digital transformation taking place in the accountancy profession, many PAOs are considering opening their pipelines to candidates with skillsets in areas beyond what the CPA designation currently offers. By starting with targeting high school or secondary school students and drawing on recent high-quality college graduates, PAOs will inevitably be better poised to solidify long-term sustainability well into the future.
We look forward to enhancing and continuing these engagements!