A decade of opportunity for Generation Z accountancy professionals and their employers is predicted by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IFAC (the International Federation of Accountants) in a new report – Groundbreakers: Gen Z and the future of accountancy.
Gathering the views of 9,000 18 to 25-year-olds globally, including 73 in the Caribbean, the report throws fresh light on the aspirations and fears of this up-and-coming generation of young professionals, while also offering employment advice for them and employers alike.
Many Caribbean respondents see accountancy as attractive, providing long term prospects and portability with access to jobs that span internationally and across industries. But this is a generation concerned about the future – 78 per cent are concerned about a lack of job opportunities/job security compared to a global average of 58 per cent. Two thirds say they are concerned about their wellbeing and mental health.
The report also reveals that as employers, the profession is missing opportunities to attract more young people to its ranks.
Irish Gen Z question the motives of the business world – just 29 per cent say businesses are fighting climate change; 25 per cent agree business leaders have integrity and do what they say and 26 per cent say businesses prioritise and take good care of employees. However, 71 per cent also believe that business has as a positive impact on wider society.
Shelly-Ann Mohammed, head of ACCA Caribbean, said: "Our findings present both challenges and opportunities for the accountancy profession and business across the Caribbean and globally. That’s because Gen Z will demand more accountability from the leaders of the organisations in which they work, and they’ll also have high expectations of their work-life balance and how employee welfare is managed."
• Caribbean Generation Z is determined: looking at their own peer group, a massive 90 per cent say they are ambitious to progress quickly; 86 per cent also value flexibility and work-life balance, and 84 per cent value purpose and meaning in a job.
• As expected, they’re also tech savvy – 92 per cent say they’re very comfortable with technology and pick up new tech fast, and the same amount say technology will enable finance professionals to focus on high-value-added activity.
• For those already working as accountants, 56 per cent were drawn to it because they were interested in the subject and 50 per cent for the career portability it offers. This perception is also reflected in respondents who are looking to become accountants with 61 per cent saying they’re interested because of the portability of finance roles globally.
Mohammed concluded: "The world now demands more accountability and transparency – the mantra is simple: stakeholders, not just shareholders. For the accountancy profession, this represents a potential turning point and these young people will help create a workforce which is more diverse, more inclusive, and which will make businesses more cognisant of their broader role in society.
"Our report explains how Gen Z will bring their talent and tech know-how to the profession and change it, pursuing careers with purpose and doing jobs that make a difference. It’s a message of opportunity and positivity as we work towards to achievement in 2030 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals."
To help Gen Z navigate the future, ACCA’s report recommends ways they can future proof their own careers, and realise their career dreams as work changes:
1. Bring your tech know-how to the organisation: you’ll be greatly prized for doing this.
2. Work your brand internally: make work engagements more personal to build deeper relationships in the workplace.
3. Care for your health and build resilience
4. Remember, it’s a team game: tech helps to build connections, and there are brilliant opportunities ahead to learn from others in the workplace.
5. Disrupt yourself: think "sideways" moves and be adaptable.
6. Seek mentors and find sponsors: actively seeking mentors and colleagues from different generations to provide you with essential support to help "fill in the blanks" and give you vital knowledge and wisdom from years of experience is very valuable.
7. Continuously learn: this is about being future proofed, about learning new knowledge, but about being adaptable and proactive and having an open mindset to get new skills, to future proof your competence.
8. Recognise the importance of the “early years”: The only person ultimately accountable for your career is yourself, and as a young person entering the workforce, it’s critical to recognise the importance of the early years in work.
9. Build life-long networks: keep connected and build a strong external network to expand learning opportunities and new career opportunities. Time invested in important personal relationships over the long term will always pay dividends.
10. Pursue your dreams: the pandemic’s making many rethink careers and jobs in accountancy are changing, offering fantastic opportunities to contribute and make a difference. Pursue things that interest you, that provide purpose and career fulfilment. And even if you haven’t decided yet, finding something that interests you and at which you can become good at will reap benefits longer term.
The full report can be downloaded here: https://www.accaglobal.com/gb/en/professional-insights/pro-accountants-the-future/gen-z.html
(Content submitted by ACCA)