Shelly Ann Mohammed, head of ACCA Caribbean
The covid19 crisis has made a lot of people rethink their career aspirations and futures. As the global workforce continues to adjust to the unique world event, employers large and small, in both the public and private sectors are facing new challenges and opportunities in light of these turbulent times.
The pandemic is shaking up how we run businesses and organisations in ways that mean the role of accountants is wider and more important than ever before. And it’s highlighted how this profession offers a secure and flexible career whatever your age.
Good financial management and business decision-making skills with sustainability and ethics at their heart are more critical than ever. The same applies to digital mastery, dealing with disruption, and the ability to work successfully with people of all generations and backgrounds. This is true whether you’re aiming to be a business leader or start your own business.
It’s this combination of strategic accountancy skills that makes ACCA accountants more attractive than ever to employers as we move ahead, including for leadership, management, entrepreneurial and strategic roles. This means that there are exciting and varied career opportunities for accountants of all generations ready to embrace the challenges and keep their skills up to date.
For the upcoming Generation Z in particular, developing strategic accountancy skills offers a great launchpad into this world, with a variety of benefits our research shows that they crave. Capturing the unique views of 9,000 18 to 25-year-olds around the world, our new report Groundbreakers: Gen Z and the future of accountancy, with the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) reveals the hopes, ambitions, and deep concerns of this age group.
Feedback of these smart, connected, ambitious yet realistic young people reveals a generation worried about their job security, and their wellbeing and mental health. These concerns are something of a wakeup call to employers who need to show they care.
They also question the motives of business and how it operates. Globally, while 69 per cent of Gen Z are broadly convinced that businesses have a positive impact on wider society, they also think there is significant room for improvement from business leaders.
Sixty-six per cent of respondents believe businesses continue to prioritise the maximisation of returns to investors. Forty-one per cent are also less convinced that business leaders have integrity and do what they say, and slightly fewer believe businesses are currently fighting climate change at 39 per cent. In the UK, just 26 per cent believe climate change is being tackled by business, one of the lowest scores behind those of our respondents in China, Malaysia, Ireland and Pakistan.
From this research, what we see ahead is a decade of opportunity for business and Gen Z, especially as organisations look to position themselves for future recovery in the face of the extraordinary social and economic change brought about by covid19. We are seeing – and will see more of – business models being transformed, value chains reassessed, markets reshaped, and capital reallocated.
Gen Z have a huge role to play in this transformation. These are the people who will help create a workforce which is more diverse, more inclusive, and which will make businesses more aware of their broader role in society.
They are comfortable with digital technology. It is a part of their lives and part of who they are, in a way that isn’t true for earlier generations. Young accountants are tech smart, with 85 per cent saying they are comfortable with technology and pick up new tech fast.
They know that it is vital to keep learning, to stay agile, to remain open to new ideas, new ways of doing things, new methods – because the pace of change in our world is only accelerating. Again, this opens up new horizons of opportunity for young, ambitious, trained accountants ready to make a mark in business and the world.
Gen Z consists of 1.8b people and makes up 24 per cent of the global population. For them, developing strategic accountancy skills offers the opportunity to learn valuable skills and progress rapidly, to be paid well and enjoy greater security of employment. To enjoy a good work-life balance, with varied and meaningful work for organisations with purpose and values. And the opportunity to make a contribution towards a better, fairer, more sustainable future for all.
(Content courtesy ACCA)