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Financial literacy just one part of growing skills gap

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Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) welcomes the Government’s announcement of mandatory financial literacy education in schools, saying it will help address an essential skills gap that threatens New Zealanders’ economic well-being.

“CA ANZ and our 31,000 NZ members are ready to support the development of the framework that will deliver mandatory financial literacy education in schools,” said CA ANZ NZ Country Head Peter Vial FCA.

While CA ANZ welcomes the announcement and applauds the cross-party focus on the issue, the peak accounting body is concerned by the reduction in accounting content offered in the secondary school curriculum and the significant decline in tertiary accounting degree enrolments since 2018.

“Secondary students have less exposure to core accounting with the new NCEA curriculum, and that’s affecting tertiary enrolments.”

“Demand for accounting and finance professionals is outstripping supply and New Zealand businesses and the economy more broadly can’t afford for our education system to be a handbrake.”

Identifying challenges in the education sector, CA ANZ reimagined its CA (Chartered Accountant) Program in 2021, and recently hit a significant milestone as more than 2,000 individuals enrolled for a single term (1 April to 30 June 2023) in the new CA Program.

The increase in enrolments is being attributed to a range of factors, including candidates resuming education after the pandemic, as well as the flexibility and attractiveness of the new CA Program.

“While the latest enrolment figures are good for employers, without improvement in the key settings for university funding and the secondary school curriculum, we will struggle to deliver the pipeline of accounting and finance talent that New Zealand needs to compete on a global stage, even with changes to our program,” continued Mr Vial.

“We’ve seen what happens when we let talent shortages in crucial professions get out of control, whether it’s in health, education, or audit.”

“The Government introduced mandatory climate-related disclosures for certain large entities this year, and accountants will play a critical role in businesses complying with the new requirements. Yet the Government has significantly reduced the scope of accounting at NCEA Level 1 limiting students’ ability to gain exposure to the subject early in their education.”

“The impacts of this change will be seen in five years’ time, where there will likely be a critical supply shortage of accountants graduating into the workforce. We are seeing the impacts of a critical worker shortage in the health force. We know the real-world consequences of under-investing in critical education pathways and have an opportunity to prevent this from happening in the finance and business sector.

“We believe a stronger partnership between CA ANZ, government, tertiary institutions and secondary schools can address these long-term issues, so that New Zealand has a strong workforce for the future,” concluded Mr Vial.

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