Gap Attack: Eight Steps to Get That New Hire

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Alleyne, Esmond
Martin, James
Washburn University. School of Business
Kaw Valley Bank
Issue Date
August 2015
Alternative Title
Recent statements published in several quality practitioner targeted accounting publications succinctly addressed issues surrounding the talent pool of entry level managerial accountants along with industry employer ability to hire and retain these entry level accountants. In Plan for the Future: A Career in Management Accounting, author Jeff Thomson identifies issues such as the demand for quality entry level accountants outstripping the supply of such accountants. He also points out factors such as the tendency of new accounting graduates to begin their career at a CPA firm instead of starting in industry thereby affecting the number of entry level management accountants. Likewise, in The Skills Gap in Entry-Level Management Accounting and Finance, the study sponsors, The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and the American Productivity and Quality (APQC) isolate and study multiple deficiency gaps between what employers want to see in entry level accountants and what entry level skills these accountants actually possess. The study also delves into many of the same hiring and retention practices for entry level accountants identified by Thomson above. This article seeks to address some of the issues raised in the Thomson and IMA/APQC papers cited above. Namely, what steps can the management accounting profession take to more closely align skills possessed by new accountants graduating from four and five year accounting programs with the skills needed on the job. Second, what can the management accounting profession do to improve the hiring and retention policies for companies looking to hire these graduates into management accounting positions? As two former management accounting industry managers who have now been converted to educators, we have hired and supervised hundreds of management accountants in our 52 years in industry and now have educated hundreds of such accountants. As such, the comments in this article reflect a candid and unique perspective. Opinions expressed in this paper are ours alone and neither reflect the views of our former employers in industry nor our current employers in education. The following are our eight suggestions for improvement in the hiring and retention programs for entry level accountants plus suggestions as to how to decrease the skills gap between what an entry level accountant "looks" like and what you want the first year accountant to "look" like.