To What Extent Does an Accounting or Business Degree Equip Graduates with the Knowledge and Skills Required by Prospective Employers
Research Report To what extent does an accounting or business degree equip graduates with the knowledge and skills required by prospective employers in the current climate Section 1 Today’s students leaving university with a degree, would like to think that the university has equipped them with the correct knowledge and skills required by the employer, but is this the case?
Here we will look at the extent to which this has been achieved, by evaluating the knowledge and skills acquired from gaining an accounting degree, comparing the skills and knowledge required by prospective employers in today’s current business climate, and looking at how the employers recruit on the bases of the degree classification and employability skills. Section 2 According to AccountancyAge (1), business climate has slightly improved since the crash of the economy in 2008-2009, but it is said that there is still a lack of confidence among consumers and corporate businesses.
Three years after the start of the recession we are still bumping along the bottom of a global crisis. There is speculation according to the Guardian paper(2011), that it will take another four years before the economy gets back to it pre recession status. So times are harder this now. Fewer jobs are available, cuts in public sector, and cuts in private sectors, salaries frozen and household expenses increasing year by year, and less graduate jobs available with more graduates applying each year for university places.
At the beginning of May this year there was a 14% rise in applications to university degree courses making out there was over 640 000 applications. It has been mentioned that in the year 2020, 4 out of 10 people will have a degree, meaning the degree will not represent what it originally stood for which was academic excellence, and allowing individual to stand out from the crowd.
So even though the degree is still regarded by employers as a essential tool to evaluate students when assessing their skills, it could become less relevant within the accounting profession as students can already join accounting firms as accounting technical, going on in their career to take professional exams without attending university, and not having to pay fees or get into debt, unless the universities are able to strengthen the meaning of an accounts degree, and gain more respect from employers showing the employers that the skills developed at university are essential to have for the future success of their business.
Section 2. 1 According to High Fliers (2011), the job climate for graduates is very competitive and over populated with degree graduates, where each graduate job is attracting 68 application, which is continuing to rise again next year, as well as the last years 2009 graduates that were unable gain employment will put them self back into the pool of graduates looking for work. As the pool of graduates are increasing so is the classification of the degree , where by next year a 2. will not be of any importance to employers, and the cut of mark for graduate position will reach 2. 1 across the country. Most companies or organisation are already looking for a minimum of a 2:1 from a reputable university with a respectable degree discipline, to be considered for a position as a graduate employee within their company. According to Prospects career areas (2010), a HESA survey was completed in 2010 stating that after 6 months of graduating, almost 50 percent were in full time employment, 44% were employed in financial and business professional roles. 5% were employed as cashiers and numerical clerks, and 9% took employment as managers within the commercial and public sector showing that the employers still look for a degree specific to accounting. Section 3 According to Richard M S Wilson (2011), when looking at courses offered by universities, the student may choose to do a course that’s of interest to the student, where the student might do better because they can relate to the subject with stronger passion obtaining a 2:1, or possibly do a course that’s relevant to a particular job aiming their sights on a particular career.
So it should be a priority to the student that the course is able to offer the prospective employers the knowledge and skills required to be capable of doing the job as a graduate. According to the FT bean counters defy stereo types(2010), said employers are now asking for less specific occupational, technical or academic skills associated with specific degrees, and looking for more employability skills such as flexibility, business acumen, competitive, risk taker, it/computer literacy, accurate and quick thinking, methodical, trust worthy and conscientious individuals.
So it look like employers are looking at the overall skills of the student, to provide them with the best all round candidate that would suit their business as the university prepares the graduates for a trainee graduate position which can also be achieved by taking other degree courses. Section 3. 1 According to(2) Prospects careers your skills (2010), the specific skills gained from studying accounts, would be an understanding of accountancy practice, commerce and finance. The student will be able to use and understand technical terminology of the business, and develop more general transferable skills.
Specific skills would involve knowledge and awareness of business organisation, understanding business theories, problem solving, analytical skills, oral and communications skills, and knowledge of global business skills. Section 3. 2 The jobs related directly to a degree in accounts according to Prospective job options (2010), would be chartered accountant working for individuals or large, commercial and public sectors. Chartered certified accountant employed through the public or corporate sector, chartered management accountant and chartered finance accountant.
Jobs where the accounts degree should benefit the student should lie in investment analyst, financial trader, actuary, banker, management consultants and tax advisors, but does the degree in accounts provide you with better chance of employment in these job sectors, or are you just as likely to be employed by the same sector but with degree that is not related to this field, for example geography or history, because the trend has now seen employers choose candidates who have a general degree, rather a specific degree like accountancy, where the employer values the wider selection of skills offered by the general degree subject.
Section 4 According to Richard M. S Wilson (2009), there is a conflict of interest between what skills the university can provide the employer, and what skills the professional accountancy bodies such as the International Federation of
Accounts would expect to see from graduates, especially if the university is related to professionals qualifications offering exemptions from professional exams On the flip side to the coin the skills gained from the accounts degree could be transferred to sales, IT, marketing and law which again, could be debated that if the degree courses target more towards professional exams it would might lose the transferable skills that the degree offers other graduates, lessening the value of a degree in accounts. Section 5
According to High fliers (2011), the typical employers for graduate studying accounts would be Deloitte, Ernest and Young, KPMG and WaterpriceCooper who all offer internships , which are best way to gain employment within these companies, as they recruit 80% of their graduates form their internship programme. Other companies such as BAE Systems and Unilever and Tesco Stores offer graduated position in their accounting departments. Also the public sector such as the NHS, charities and small to medium sized businesses provides graduate employment.
According to the FT balance sheets robots are not required (2009), mentioned that the current employers are not looking for people who are maths orientated, but looking for graduates that are comfortable with numbers, who have good communication skills, and business awareness and strong problem solving skills as their main method of assessing graduates, also good academic record including high UCAS points and a 2:1 degree or above. The ability to work in a team and to be able to convey information. A real passion for accounts numbers and figures.
Good social skills and people skills. An analytical and logical approach when working through problems. Must have business acumen and commercial awareness. Must be motivated and determined to succeed with new challenges. Excellent communication, numeracy and problem solving skills are essential. Self-discipline and self-management essential. High working standards and some work or life experience. Hobbies and interest out with work will be beneficial to the application as it can demonstrate more abilities achieved.
When it comes to assessing the candidate the degree discipline and classification will get your foot in the door but the employers are now keen in developing their assessment of graduates through psychometric testing, self appraisal forms and phone interview assessment, before you go for an interview, but worryingly, there are still many graduates from last year applying for the second time round increasing the talent pool making it harder for the employer to find really good graduates.
Section 5. 1 According to the AccoutancyAge, it’s not rocket science (2008), the employers have good relationships with universities that provide an accounting or business degree, through providing internship and working closely with universities, sometimes linking up directly with a specific university. PricewaterhosueCoopers have linked with Newcastle to offer a BA (Hons) Business accounting and finance and Ernest and young with Lancaster university management school. Section 6
According to Prospect what do graduates do business (2011), figures from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher education show that graduates coming from a business related degree continue to have a higher rate of employment after graduation compared to other students across all courses The universities have to keep up with the constant changes to the business economy and keep the technical skills that the professional bodies want to see but also giving the students the opportunity to gain transferable skills that are not specific to accountancy.
With employers demanding graduates who are entering the profession to produce the top 3 skills which are analytical, problem solving and a good level of business acumen, then it should be taken into consideration how important this part of the learning experience is , so the students are aware that these skills might need to be developed outside the university curriculum.
The extent to which the accounting equips graduates in today’s business climate is fairly successful, but given the expectations of students and the demands of perspective employers, a greater effort should be made to review the course curriculum and keep it up to speed the with events that are happening in the business climate today, to improve the degree for employers perspective and students employability within the accounting and business sector.