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Fair access to professions needs to add up, says ACCA in its new social mobility paper


29 Mar 2011

Widening access to the finance professions can only be achieved if all those involved in the process of qualifying professionals adopt values that truly break down barriers to entry, says ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) today in a new report called Climbing the ladder: ACCA and Social Mobility.

Andrew Leck, head of ACCA UK, says: “It is clear that the UK must focus on ‘upskilling’ the population if it is to achieve its ambition of being in the top eight countries in the world for skills, jobs and productivity by 2020 and if it is to break down barriers to social mobility. Our report offers 16 recommendations as a means to achieve this.”

ACCA asserts in this new report that a way-in to the professions can only be achieved if a complete shift happens in attitudes to professional – and vocational - qualifications.

Andrew Leck adds: “The first recommendation is the need to ensure that careers advice in state schools really informs, guides and engages young people about the benefits of professional qualifications.. Another recommendation states that the UK government must also address the perception gap that’s existed for too long between academic and vocational or professional qualifications. These are imperatives, especially given recent reports about youth unemployment levels rising, and also more universities announcing they will charge the maximum fee of £9,000 per annum.

“However, it is not all about removing barriers to entry. Some of this change is about self-belief and society as a whole needs to move away from the view that high grades at A-level followed by a degree are still the best indicator of future success.  But with probable cuts in education spending and welfare support, finding the resources to tackle social mobility in the coming years will be a significant challenge for the coalition government”.

The report says that while there are disproportionate numbers of middle-class students at universities, over the last 20 years, entry and progression routes into accountancy have by contrast become much more flexible with, for example, open routes to entry into the accounting profession enabling people to become accountants without having to go through a degree course.

ACCA is also concerned that employers – as well as students – are losing out too because of this narrow approach, and calls for qualifications that are in-line with the needs of employers.

Andrew Leck adds: “As trainers of tomorrow’s accountants and finance professionals, we work with employers to find solutions. We have recently introduced Foundations in Accountancy, an entry level suite of awards aimed at those looking to start a career in accountancy, perhaps as a junior accounting or technician role.”

Mr Leck concludes: “Education and professional qualifications are a driver of social mobility. While breaking down barriers to social mobility is no mean feat, what is needed is consistent, joined-up action that will ensure social mobility and accessibility for those that need it most.”

- ends -

Facts about accountancy careers with ACCA

          o For a student completing the ACCA qualification in five years, the cost of ACCA registration, subscription and examination fees is a total of £1,455. The additional cost of tuition fees would be dependent on the method of study the student or employer chose.
          o 49% of the ACCA UK student base is female (nearly 35,000 students).
          o 48% of ACCA UK’s students are non graduates.

Nick Cosgrove, ACCA Newsroom
+44 (0)20 7059 5989
+44 (0)7963 496144

Notes to Editors

         1. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
         2. We support our 140,000 members and 404,000 students in 170 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of over 80 offices and centres and more than 8,000 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
         3. Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.

Cecile Bonino
Public Affairs and Media Relations Officer-EU ACCA
CBI business house
14 rue de la Science
BE-1040 Brussels
tel:+32 (0) 2 286 11 37
mob: +44 (0) 7809595008

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