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Accountants group, feeling undergraduates are not being taught properly, launches Competency Crisis website

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The Institute of Management Accountants wants to fix what it calls a “talent gap” in the accounting profession.

The IMA, a Montvale-based global association for accounting and finance professionals, has launched the Competency Crisis website to do just that. The portal at CompetencyCrisis.org defines the association's view of the problem and seeks solutions from employers, professionals, students, and academics.

IMA said decades of research shows that there is wide discrepancy between what employers need from accounting and finance staff and what many undergraduates accounting students learn in school.

"Studies by IMA and others show that the typical college accounting curriculum isn't preparing students for long-term careers in accounting, especially management accounting," IMA CEO Jeff Thomson said in a statement.

Thomson added that the website is intended to serve as a platform where interested parties "can learn more about the problem and discuss their experiences and ideas for the path forward."

The site refers to staffing firm Manpower's "Talent Shortage Survey," which has ranked accounting and finance professionals in the top ten hardest jobs to fill the past three years.

"Narrowly-focused curricula are fanning the flames," the website says. "When classroom lessons aren't consistently aligned with on-the-job demands, the gap widens. We must catch up."

IMA has addressing the "talent gap" issues with various initiatives dating to 1986. This January, the association participated in the IMA/AAA Management Accounting Section Curriculum Task Force that issued recommendations to improve accounting education.

"Accounting education needs to focus on students' long-term career needs, and not just prepare students for their first job," said Raef Lawson, IMA vice president of research and chair of the task force. "The profession is changing and education should integrate the variety of competencies needed to add organizational value."

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