Leaving Cert reform could ease shortage of accountants … – The Irish Times

The Leaving Cert accounting syllabus has been ‘essentially unchanged in 30 years’, says president of Chartered Accountants Ireland Pat O’Neill. Photograph: iStock
An acute shortage of qualified accountants will worsen in 2023, the president of Chartered Accountants Ireland, Pat O’Neill, will warn on Friday night as he addresses the organisation’s annual dinner in Dublin.
Mr O’Neill will call for an update to the Leaving Cert accounting syllabus to help alleviate the issue.
“Anecdotally, the talent pipeline problem is clear right across the profession, from practices of all size to industry, resulting in attraction and retention challenges, not just in Ireland, but around the world, and we are working with global partners to tackle it,” Mr O’Neill said ahead of the event.
“It is driven by a huge increase in competition for talent from non-accounting roles, but also a real gap in perception of what accountants actually do.”
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The president said many students pursued accounting at third level despite, not because of, their experience at second level.
“Anecdotal feedback has been that many are turned off because of rote learning, the lack of breadth of what is taught and the need to unlearn and relearn concepts on transition to third level,” he said.
While the numbers opting for accounting at second level have grown in recent years, in the decade following the 2008 recession, the numbers taking accounting at third level slumped by over a quarter. The Leaving Cert syllabus dates from the 1990s, and while major reform of the syllabus at large has been announced, accounting as a subject has yet to be addressed.
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“Accounting has remained set in stone, essentially unchanged in 30 years, so it is little wonder that students don’t associate the profession with cutting-edge areas like data analytics or sustainability reporting, both of which are huge growth areas for us.”
Anne Heraty, the founder and former chief executive of CPL Resources, will also address attendees.
“In an ideal world, the second-level syllabus will identify and meet the needs of a modern, international and technologically advanced economy,” she said before the event.
“It will produce school leavers who understand the applicability and potential of the subjects they learn at second level, in the real world. This will be a critical element in helping Ireland Inc to win the war for talent.”
Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics
© 2023 The Irish Times DAC
© 2023 The Irish Times DAC


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