Accountants to be fast-tracked from college to meet graduate shortfall

President of CPAI Cormac Mohan

Michael Cogley

A new fast-track system for accountancy graduates has been introduced to help meet the intense demand for new hires.

Certified Professional Accountants Ireland (CPAI) has reached agreements with 12 third-level institutions including Trinity College Dublin, the National College of Ireland, University College Cork, University of Limerick, and the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Under the programme, students who have to carry out internships or work experience as part of their degrees will be able to use it towards the mandatory three years of working needed to qualify.

President of CPAI Cormac Mohan said Ireland and the UK are bucking a global trend with fewer students entering the practice year on year.

"Globally, the number of new students pursuing accountancy is increasing and was up 2.4pc last year," he said.

"The number of accountancy students in Ireland, 16,425 in 2017, remains far below pre-crisis levels, 18,289 in 2007, and this is going to cause considerable problems in the years ahead."

Mohan said the education and training that has been provided to the profession has "stagnated" in recent years and the current system does not reflect the needs of the 21st century. He warned that the industry will face a "massive shortage" within the next five years if there wasn't a rethink in how accountants were trained.

"Currently students who want to qualify as accountants are required to undertake three years of on-the-job training. Now, for the first time in Ireland, students who complete accredited work experience or internships as part of their degrees can count this towards the CPA training requirement," Mohan said. "This means that with CPA FastTrack, students from across Ireland can qualify as professional accountants a year quicker than was previously possible."

The fast-track scheme will also be available at Athlone IT, IT Carlow, Cork IT, Dundalk IT, Maynooth University, Waterford IT, and IT Tralee.

CPA has estimated that a shortfall of almost 15,000 trainees has emerged over the last decade.

It said that following the economic downturn many students emigrated with more potential students opting to choose a different course.

Earlier in the year, Morgan McKinley identified financial accountants, financial analysts, and payroll as the most in-demand and best-paid jobs in the sector.

Asset management, fintech and investment banking were also noted as being in demand.