From education to employment

A report by MPs says STEM education needs updating for the modern workplace

man using science equipment

AICPA & CIMA, the global organisation which represents nearly 700,000 AICPA and CIMA members, candidates, and engaged professionals worldwide, have welcomed a report by MPs calling for accounting to be considered a STEM subject in the UK.

The report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Accounting for Growth, which The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) provides the secretariat for, found that including accounting in STEM would give the grouping a more commercial focus, and guide young people towards developing high-end skills relevant to the modern workplace.

The report discovered that the understanding of what STEM is supposed to achieve would benefit from clarification, and the grouping would benefit from a stronger focus on its commercial application. If accounting were considered a STEM subject, it would raise the status of the profession and recognise the vital contribution it makes to the functioning of modern organisations.

Raising the profile of the profession is particularly important as competition for new talent is intense, and talented young people have many career options to choose from. If accounting were part of the STEM designation, it would be clear that it is a pathway to putting high-level technical skills to practical use. This clarification would be a benefit for both prospective accountants and the wider economy.

The report highlighted the feeling among many CFOs that the increased use of technology by accounting professionals meant that their finance teams were adding more value to their business than they were in the past. Innovations including artificial intelligence and robotic process automation are automating routine tasks and freeing up time for more high-end work, aimed at influencing the strategic direction of organisations. This technological aspect of the role would be reflected by including accounting in the STEM designation.

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive – Management Accounting at AICPA & CIMA, together as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, said:

“We welcome this report, and I hope it stimulates further debate on designating accounting as a STEM subject. In recent years, accounting has developed many high-level technical aspects, including the use of data analytics and advanced forecasting tools. It is right that this technical component is recognised through the STEM designation. Young people choosing their career paths should fully understand that if they train as accountants, they will be using cutting-edge technology to influence organisational decision-making at the highest level.”

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