PracticeAccounting FirmsView from the educators: new best friend or worst enemy?

View from the educators: new best friend or worst enemy?

With the finishing tape in sight for the second full year of compulsory continuous professional development for accountancy, it seemed to us as good a time as any to take stock of professional sentiment towards this substantial recent training requirement

We have been exploring whether practising accountants viewed CPD as just one
more onerous necessity; a guilty worry to be faced up to for a couple of frantic
weeks each year then battled back into the cupboard. Or perhaps the view would
be of that CPD training offering some of the more rewarding and stimulating
opportunities of modern working life.

Naturally, we receive plenty of direct responses from our course attendees,
but we weren’t exactly sure what to expect from a ‘blind’ survey of the broader
views of more than 250 CPD students. The results are certainly encouraging and I
felt this column would be a good opportunity to share a handful of key findings.

At an individual level, nearly one-in-three respondents already reports that
CPD is making a substantial difference to their career development. This is a
great testament to the practical, ‘needs-driven’ nature of modern training
courses. A further 62% feel that CPD is making some early difference and I would
expect more to move to the ‘substantial difference’ category in the coming
years.

There is a perhaps understandable bias towards opting for job-specific
technical training courses. However, a significant share of training courses are
chosen to develop the individual’s broader business and management skills, a
theme I’ve taken up in previous columns.

Looking at the wider impact of CPD on the profession, four out of five of
those surveyed felt the ongoing training commitment would have a positive impact
on professionalism. In the shadow of high profile issues such as Enron, it’s
perhaps more interesting still that more than a quarter of respondents felt CPD
would improve the profession’s image.

One-in-three respondents believe companies in their sector don’t focus enough
on CPD, but, by and large, CPD trainees are happy with the level of corporate
commitment to this area.

Finally, while a third of respondents report putting in extra hours to keep
up while training, it’s great to see that an overwhelming 94% feel the results
were worth the time put in. A great start for CPD and solid ground to build on.

Si Hussain is chief executive of professional development at BPP
Professional Education

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