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The final question was whether there
was agreement between the managers
and young professionals in the same
industry. In other words, do the recent
graduates and their supervisors agree
on the skills needed? For the local firms,
one half of the skills had the five-point
or more differential in the rankings. The
most marked differential for the local
firms group was networking strategies,
with the young professionals group
putting greater emphasis on the skill.
The regional/national firms' results
indicated better alignment between
the two groups, but still some marked
differences in areas such as problem
solving and working in teams.
The other industry group was
notable both for the large number of
differences and also the magnitude
of the differences. Business etiquette,
working in teams, and database setup/
database management all had ranking
differentials of 10 points or more. Again,
the small number of respondents for
the industry young professionals group
may have impacted the results.
Why Is This Important?
It is clear that employers want
employees who possess a set of
technical skills, but at the same time,
they want employees who have the
skill set to think critically and solve
problems. More and more, employers
want new hires that are well-rounded
and proficient in a wide range of
thinking and communication skills. In
addition, as the baby boomer CPAs
get ready to retire, managers become
concerned about whether the young
professionals have the skills to be
successful at the next level.
In looking at the ranking of skills
by industry, managers and young
professionals frequently disagreed on
the relative importance of the skills.
This shows the need for more open
discussion on the importance of non-
technical skills and a dialogue on
exactly what each skill entails in the
specific workplace.
The survey highlights the need to
increase the breadth of the accounting
curriculum to include the valued
ancillary core skills covered by the
survey. CPA society CPE offerings or
firm in-house education can continue
to reinforce these skills during the early
years of the career of new accounting
hires. The differences in industry
highlight the fact that different jobs
may require different skills. Some of
the lower ranked skills could be taught
within the individual companies or
In addition, the young professionals
need to be proactive about pursuing
training in these skills and managers
may need to do a better job communi-
cating the importance of these skills to
the younger employees.
At minimum, the research may
spark discussion about the need
to teach or learn skills in addition
to the traditional vocational educa-
tion, and promote new methods for
teaching the ancillary skills.
Marie G. Kulesza,
MSPA, CPA, CMA is an
assistant professor of
business administra-
tion at the University of
Saint Joseph and has
more than 15 years of experience in
public accounting. She can be reached
Pamela Q. Weaver,
DBA, CPA specializes
in tax and business
consulting services.
She is also on the
faculty of the University
of Hartford's Barney School of
Business. She holds a Doctor of
Business Administration focusing on
optimizing business performance and
leadership. She can be reached at
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