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Human Capacity Comes of Age Globally

IAESB and UNCTAD join hands to implement international accounting education standards.

February 22, 2011
by Sukanya Mitra

As more countries join the international financial reporting standards (IFRS) bandwagon, it was inevitable that accounting and financial practitioners on the global workspace were not the only ones who needed educating. Hiring managers, human resources recruiters as well as educators needed to be better informed so that they can in turn teach CPA students and recruiters are better equipped to hire the right professionals.

With that in mind the International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB) and the United Nations on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) developed an accountancy education forum to help:

  • Build human capacity and professional accounting education and
  • Implement high-quality corporate reporting.

“We believe that a critical link in developing human capacity and in ensuring a high standard of competence is the need for professional accountancy organizations to develop and deliver effective professional accountancy education programs,” pointed out Mark Allison, chair, IAESB. He said that their main aim “is to improve the competence of the accounting profession.”

Members of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) of which the AICPA is a member, uses education standards, guidance and information papers developed by the IAESB and the IAESB Consultative Advisory Group, which provides public interest input into the development of the standards and guidance.

Henri Fortin, program manager for the Centre for Financial Reporting Reform at the World Bank, will lead a discussion on the requirements that a professional accountancy organization needs in order to develop a professional accountancy education program. International standards and benchmarks for such a program will be shared with attendees and the following questions answered:

  1. What are the considerations and requirements for developing a professional accountancy education program?
  2. What are some of the critical capacity-building needs in the area of accounting education?
  3. What assistance exists to develop professional accountancy education programs and implement the requirements?
  4. How can progress towards implementing these requirements be assessed? How do these programs impact the global economy?

“Efficient capital markets depend on the work of the accountancy profession to ensure that accounting and auditing professionals demonstrate a high standard of competence,” noted Allison. “The critical link in ensuring competence is developing human capacity, which relies on professional accountancy organizations to develop and deliver effective professional accountancy education programs.”

So, what’s in it for CPAs/SPHRs in the U.S.?

“As adoption of IFRS becomes more widespread globally, and the U.S. continues its deliberations about adoption/convergence, the IAESB’s international education standards will come into sharper focus in the U.S. and may become another factor in assessing accounting education programs,” pointed out AICPA Special Projects Business Advisor Denny Reigle.

The forum hopes to raise awareness of IAESB’s practices as well as how the International Education Standards (IESs) builds professional accountancy education programs. “CPAs and other professional accountants will better understand what elements are needed in developing an accountancy education program including curriculum requirements for qualification,” said Allison.

With more than 50 countries, including the U.S., participating in the conference, Allison sees it as highly “beneficial for government officials, practitioners in public accounting firms and industry and educators worldwide.”

For more information on the conference, visit IFAC’s website.

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Sukanya Mitra is managing editor of the AICPA Insider™ e-newsletter group.