UiPath and CAI partner to teach accountants new RPA skills

UiPath and CAI partner to teach accountants new RPA skills

With RPA set to be nearly-universal within the next five years, accountants are being prepared for the change with a new automation-focused course.

UiPath and CAI partner to teach accountants new RPA skills

Starting in the 2019/20 academic year, UiPath will be providing its Automation Ready Workforce to the Chartered Accountants Ireland’s (CAI) Institute.

The programme, which includes a 12-hour robotic process automation (RPA) course, is designed to give students practical exposure to software robots, while teaching about the changing principles of automation. Culminating in a final exam, graduates will be equipped with the tools to enter a digitally-focused and ever-evolving market.

Tom Clancy, senior vice president of learning at UiPath, said: “We are aware that in the next 15 years, millions of office workers will need to switch to jobs that do not even exist now, as automation and AI continues to reshape the workplace.

“With a vision to democratise access to the skills of the future, our Automation Ready Workforce programme envisions a world where every professional is ‘automation-ready’ and hence employable.”

In a 2018 survey of 400 individuals published by Deloitte, 53% of respondents said their company already used RPA, with a near-universal adoption of RPA expected by 2023.

As automation becomes commonplace across multiple industries, including accountancy, the current workforce needs to be prepared for the coming changes.

John Munnelly, FAE paper development and future syllabus development for CAI, said: “Accountants are natural leaders in financial functions and tend to migrate towards leadership positions – and if we’re giving them automation tools, we’re really placing them higher in the value chain in terms of the skills mix, and in their ability to bring insights back into the business.”

The RPA takeover

RPA software is often referred to as a ‘robot’ and is primarily consisted of cross-functional programmes that do the repetitive tasks usually done by humans. Since robots often come with a one-time price and can work around-the-clock, they have become a financially-stable solution for firms of all sizes.

Despite the growth of RPA implementation in accountancy, CAI is the first worldwide professional accountancy body to implement an RPA syllabus for accountancy students, according to Institute president Conall O’Halloran.

“The role of accountants is changing, and businesses are embracing new technologies faster than ever,” O’Halloran said. “It’s vital that our students and future members are equipped to support businesses now and, in the years, to come.”

From a practical standpoint, RPA eliminates the need for accountants to do menial tasks, saving both time and money. Ian Browne, head of assessment and syllabus for CAI, said that this allows accountants to escape the ‘daily grind’ and develop higher value-add skills instead.

Rory Gray, vice president of sales in the UK and Ireland for UiPath, said: “Current accountants will have to embrace automation, but that will make their work more interesting. It isn’t all about creating more money – creating more billable hours –but to make work more meaningful and exciting.

“This is proven to reduce churn, which is a concern for organisations and costs a lot of money. Current accountants need to embrace automation – and it will make their work more productive and effective, almost overnight.”

A focus on security

The security of RPAs has some into question over the years, as some robots are unmonitored and handling potentially sensitive data.

As general data protection regulation (GDPR) laws will change in the UK following Brexit, both firms and clients want to know that their data is protected – which is precisely why RPA is needed, Browne.

“GDPR compliance is a minefield and something that humans are struggling to keep up with,” said Browne. “Therefore, in order to keep up with these and other regulations, we actually need to have automation.”

Robots can be remotely updated to be in line with the most current data protection laws, without the need for a learning curve or a training day. This automatic compliancy requires human oversight but reduces the probability of human error down the line.

“In an automated world, a robot will carry out a job with the instructions it’s been given without deviation or emotion,” Gray said. “It doesn’t stop or take tea or cigarette breaks. The downside of this is that if you ask it to do the wrong thing, it will do it wrong, really well.

“Therefore, the businesses putting in automation need to make sure that software robots have been trained to do the right thing, and assure compliance and governance.”

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