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very year new accounting
graduates enter the profession
with the technical skills needed
for entry-level positions and to pass
the CPA Exam. Is this enough? As a
large numbers of baby boomer CPAs
approach retirement age, are these
young professionals poised to take
over significant roles in the profession?
New accounting hires and their
employers agree that there is a need
for a wider range of core skills to
be a successful accountant in the
workplace. A survey conducted this
spring helped identify the specific
ancillary core skills expected by
employers and those skills that
young professionals wished they had
more exposure to while in college.
Cross-Section of Respondents
The survey drew 194 responses from
two groups of CTCPA members: (1)
managers individuals who hold
supervisory positions and (2) young
professionals individuals who are
under age 35 and not students. In
general, the survey elicited meaningful
responses from a cross-section of
industry sectors. Individuals currently
practicing public accounting were
the highest represented group (68
percent), with the remaining in a variety
of settings such as manufacturing and
financial services.
As expected, the current position and
current primary job role held by young
professionals in their respective
industries fell into the entry level
or associate category. The young
professionals' responses showed
internal/external auditor roles as their
primary job, followed by financial
accountant. Their counterparts,
managers, indicated positions held
at director, partner, owner, or upper
management level. Tax specialists
topped the survey responses for
managers, followed by other roles
comprised mainly of CFOs, CEOs,
and controllers.
The survey asked both managers
and young professionals questions
regarding the importance of defined
technical and soft skills. Managers
were asked the question "What are
the top 10 teachable skills in addition
to the traditional vocational education
that you value in recent accounting
graduates?" The young professionals
group was asked to indicate which
10 skills they wished they had more
exposure to while in college. All
respondents ranked their selections in
order of importance.
Both groups included critical/strategic
thinking, time management and
organization, memos and writing
skills, and intermediate to advanced
Excel skills in their top five skills. The
managers chose problem solving as
the remaining top five skill and the
young professionals selected basic
workpaper formatting and organization
to round out their top five.
Figure 1 shows the top 10 skills as
ranked by both groups. Although in a
different order, the groups agreed on
eight of the top 10. Of the remaining,
the managers valued business etiquette
and working in teams, whereas the
young professionals picked networking
strategies and selling skills/rainmaking.
The color coding highlights the
relative importance of each skill for the
two groups.
To address the concern that man-
agers from different industries may
value different skills, the data was re-
viewed for three categories: local (i.e.
FIGURE 1. Top 10 Ranked Skills
Survey Results:
Are New Accounting Hires Equipped
to Meet Employers' Expectations?
By Pamela Q. Weaver, DBA, CPA and Marie G. Kulesza, MSPA, CPA, CMA
Problem solving
Critical/strategic thinking
Time management and organization
Memos and writing skills
Intermediate/advanced Excel skills
Business etiquette
Working in teams
Basic workpaper skills
Tax research
Young Professionals
Intermediate/advanced Excel skills
Basic workpaper skills
Critical/strategic thinking
Time management and organization
Memos and writing skills
Tax research
Problem solving
Selling skills/rainmaking