Young people need more than academic results alone, says ICAEW

FINANCE chiefs consider technical competence as the top priority for tomorrow’s finance leaders, according to a new ICAEW study.

In a survey of CFOs, FDs and senior partners, the skill that came out on top was that of technical competence. The 500+ CFOs and FDs interviewed said technical ability was the foundation of success for senior finance roles, followed closely by interpersonal skills.

The top five skills essential for success as a finance professional, according to the survey, included communication skills (37%), likeability (30%), leadership (29%) commercial awareness (28%) and entrepreneurial mind set (28%)

Today’s students should avoid focusing solely on academic grades but also need to gain workplace experience in order to hone abilities such as communication and entrepreneurial skills that employers are looking for, the ICAEW said.

The findings were revealed as A’ levels students found out their grades on Thursday and whether or not they achieved the results they needed for a place at their university of choice.

“In addition to academic ability, students need to demonstrate they are work-ready – they need a blend of skills and behaviours, and must be able to prove they have the ability to communicate, solve problems and work in a team,” said Sharon Spice, ICAEW director of global student recruitment.

Over the past two decades increasing numbers of A’ levels students have chosen to go on to study at university, rather than entering the workforce. But increasingly employers have complained that graduates do not have many of the critical skills needed for the workplace.

“Too many young people are leaving education without having had the chance to fully consider their future options or how their skills and experiences fit with opportunities in the jobs market,” Spice said.

The Government was wrong to remove compulsory work experience from the curriculum in 2012, she added.

“Experiencing the work environment isn’t a ‘nice-to-do activity’ and as these findings show, it is a necessity for young people to develop skills in addition to academic achievements.  Young people must have the opportunity to develop these skills outside the classroom and it is vital that students, and those supporting them, ask whether their next step will ensure they develop the skills as well as technical abilities that employers need,” Spice said.


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