Date posted: 15/11/2019 4 min read

Future proof your staff with continuing professional development

Ongoing digital disruption is changing the skill set required by finance and accounting professionals. In this context, how can employers provide the right training to assist their employees remain up to date with the latest industry trends and practices?

In brief

  • Research has found a majority of business executives concerned with the impact of automation on their staff, are increasing investment in employee professional development
  • Many employers report difficulty in finding the right training for their employees
  • The right training can boost employee productivity and engagement

The 2018 World Economic Forum report The Jobs of the Future found that more than half of all employees around the world will need reskilling or upskilling in the next three years, as the world adapts to the ongoing changes brought on by the 4th Industrial Revolution, otherwise known as Industry 4.0 or Globalisation 4.0.1

Currently in Australia, employers want 3 million more people with digital literacy skills than are available,2 and by 2030 the average finance professional in Australia will be two to three critical skills short of what is required for their job.3

In this context, it's clear that technology will continue to drive the need for continuing professional development (CPD) in businesses of all shapes and sizes. 

The importance of CPD

In a rapidly changing world, knowledge is a competitive advantage. Whether it's technical knowledge areas such as fringe benefits tax, soft skills such as communication, or digital capabilities like algorithmic forecasting, accounting and finance professionals need to understand the latest developments and better meet client challenges, in order to become a 'trusted advisor'.

Australian employers increasingly recognise the need to continually develop their staff, as failing to have the right skills can impact on growth and profitability. 4Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand's (ANZ) paper, The Future of Talent: Opportunities Unlimited, reports that globally, 77% of CEOs are concerned that key skills shortages could impair their company's growth. Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends Report 2019, found that 84% of executives, who said automation would require reskilling of their staff, were increasing investment in staff training and development.5

The need for ongoing professional development is endorsed by the International Federation of Accountants' International Education Standard 7: Continuing Professional Development, which states that professional accountants operate in an environment of change and need to actively engage in education and training to adapt to new standards, practices and technologies.6

Professional accountants have the opportunity to future proof and add value to a business and support its goals. The concept of business partnering has created the opportunity for finance teams of the future to lead the business in using relevant data to inform decision-making, and become a trusted adviser.

Finding the right training

TAFE NSW's Skills and Australian Business Report 2019, found that 74% of employers were concerned that professional development and training would require employees to spend time away from work, and 57% found it difficult to find the right training.7 Understandably, employers want easy access to relevant and flexible training for their staff.

Ranging from introductory courses to specialist face-to-face workshops, Chartered Accountants ANZ's online Continuing Professional Development courses offer a wide range of valuable learning opportunities for employees at all levels of experience. Hundreds of online learning resources are also available, allowing professionals the flexibility to undertake learning and development when and where best suits their schedule.

Recognising the importance of adapting to ongoing disruption, Chartered Accountants ANZ Education courses are designed to help finance and accounting professionals focus on the future, keep pace with global trends, foresee challenges, build prosperity and generate positive change.

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The benefits to businesses

Recent reports from the Australian Productivity Commission8 and Treasury9 outline a decline in Australia’s labour productivity growth. 

Supporting staff to pursue continuing professional development can result in improved employee retention rates 10, improved business reputation11 , increased productivity and increased employee engagement. 12

Continuing professional development can improve employee retention and reduce costs associated with staff movement. The Australian HR Institute’s 2018 Turnover and Retention Report, found that a major reason for staff movement was a lack of learning and development opportunities, and provision of these opportunities was an effective strategy to improve employee retention rates. 13 Considering the average position takes 42 days to fill 14, improved employee retention is a significant benefit of professional development that can reduce periods of inefficiency due to under-resourcing. 

Continuing professional development could also help to improve your business’ reputation. In Comparably’s 2018 Company Culture Report that lists the Top 50 companies to work for, professional development opportunities were a criterion. 15

Providing training opportunities can increase productivity and employee engagement.16  Increased productivity can come directly from new skills learned and then implemented in the workplace - including technical skills of the latest best practice, or highly transferable soft skills to improve client relationships. Training can also indirectly improve productivity and employee engagement as employees feel more confident, valued and motivated after their employer has invested in their personal development.   17 18

While continuing professional development does require an investment of time, ultimately it can lead to improved business outcomes as engaged, confident and motivated employees are proven factors in driving business success.

Forward-thinking companies can invest in the ongoing personal development of their people by providing them time to undertake professional development opportunities as well as access to structured workplace training programs. Continuing professional development not only assists in maintaining company service and quality standards, but also enables organisations to enhance their reputation, and promote a healthy learning culture in which employees feel valued by their organisation.   Deloitte Insights, The Path to Prosperity, Executive Summary, Page IV
3 Deloitte Insights, The Path to Prosperity, Chart 15, Page 27:
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6 [1] Page 5, Subhead “3. What are current Australian businesses attitudes to employee training?”

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