On course for the future CAs

At the beginning of this year, the English ICA issued a Green Paper outlining a new ACA syllabus. The response was immensely encouraging and, as a result, last week we published a White Paper for consultation on more detailed proposals.

We need to change the qualification to make sure that, in the future, there are enough employers willing to train chartered accountants, and enough good-quality students wanting to train. Without these changes, there is a very real possibility that chartered accountant student numbers will decline to a point where the ACA ceases to be a viable training route.

There are four elements to the proposed syllabus:

– a professional stage covering the principles and concepts which underpin accountancy. Students will gain a foundation of technical knowledge and understanding on which they can develop further skills

– an advanced business paper to raise commercial awareness and make students better able to use technical knowledge in a commercial context

– advanced study in selected areas which can build on work experience and develop in-depth knowledge and application of any chosen subject.

For some students, this will span general practice; for others, it will focus on one or more technical areas. The White Paper proposes a number of different ways in which the advanced study might be assessed, ranging from institute-set exams to assessment by an accredited training organisation.

A final admitting exam will, as now, be a multidisciplinary business advisory case study testing the ability of the students to apply learning and experience accumulated during the training period.

These changes to the syllabus content follow the changes to the structure that were successfully introduced following the ‘Safeguarding the Future’ consultation process. Together, they will produce a qualification for the 21st century combining improved cost effectiveness for employers and students with greater national and international appeal and enhanced potential for beneficial linkages with universities and business schools.

Peter Wyman is chairman of the English ICA Education & Training Directorate

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