The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) are projecting huge opportunities for the accountancy professionals and their employers.
In a new report titled Groundbreakers: Gen Z and the future of accountancy, Nearly half (49%) of Kenyan respondents see accountancy as having an attractive image, that encourages people to join its ranks.
But this is a generation concerned about the future – 55% identified lack of job opportunities / job security as a concern versus a global average of 58%. And 41% of Kenyan Gen Z are concerned about their wellbeing and mental health.
Gathering the views of 9,000 18 to 25-year olds globally, including 158 in Kenya, the report throws fresh light on the aspirations and fears of this up-and-coming generation of young professionals, while also offering employment advice for them and employers alike.
The report also reveals that as employers, the profession is missing opportunities to attract more young people to its ranks.
Kenyan based Gen Z respondents question the motives of the business world – 47% agree businesses are fighting climate change; 37% agree business leaders have integrity and do what they say and 58% say business prioritise and take good care of employees. However, a significant 82% also believe that business has as a positive impact on wider society.
‘Our findings present both challenges and opportunities for the accountancy profession and business here in Kenya and globally. That’s because Gen Z will demand more accountability from the leaders of the organisations in which they work, and they’ll also have high expectations of their work–life balance and how employee welfare is managed,’ says Steve Obuogo the Education Development Manager at ACCA Kenya.
Kenyan Generation Z is determined: looking at their own peer group, a massive 94% say they are ambitious to progress quickly; 93% value work life balance and flexibility and 91% value purpose and meaning in a job.
As expected, they’re also tech savvy – 85% say they’re very comfortable with technology and pick up new tech fast, and the same amount say technology will enable finance professionals to focus on high-value-added activity.
For those already working as accountants, 50% were drawn to it for the opportunity to develop a broad range of skills and 44% for the chance to work in other countries.
This perception is echoed for those respondents who are looking to become accountants with 55% attracted to the profession for the global portability it offers.
Steve Obuogo concludes: ‘The world now demands more accountability and transparency – the mantra is simple: stakeholders, not just shareholders. For the accountancy profession, this represents a potential turning point and these young people will help create a workforce which is more diverse, more inclusive, and which will make businesses more cognisant of their broader role in society.’
‘Our report explains how Gen Z will bring their talent and tech know-how to the profession and change it, pursuing careers with purpose and doing jobs that make a difference. It’s a message of opportunity and positivity as we work towards to achievement in 2030 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.’
To help Gen Z navigate the future, ACCA’s report recommends ways they can future proof their own careers, and realise their career dreams as work changes:
1. Bring your tech know-how to the organisation: you’ll be greatly prized for doing this.
2. Work your brand internally: make work engagements more personal to build deeper relationships in the workplace.
3. Care for your health and build resilience
4. Remember, it’s a team game: tech helps to build connections, and there are brilliant opportunities ahead to learn from others in the workplace.
5. Disrupt yourself: think ‘sideways’ moves and be adaptable.
6. Seek mentors and find sponsors: actively seeking mentors and colleagues from different generations to provide you with essential support to help ‘fill in the blanks’ and give you vital knowledge and wisdom from years of experience is very valuable.
7. Continuously learn: this is about being future proofed, about learning new knowledge, but about being adaptable and proactive and having an open mindset to get new skills, to future proof your competence.
8. Recognise the importance of the “early years”: The only person ultimately accountable for your career is yourself, and as a young person entering the workforce, it’s critical to recognise the importance of the ‘early years’ in work.
9. Build life-long networks: keep connected and build a strong external network to expand learning opportunities and new career opportunities. Time invested in important personal relationships over the long term will always pay dividends.
Pursue your dreams: the pandemic’s making many rethink careers and jobs in accountancy are changing, offering fantastic opportunities to contribute and make a difference. Pursue things that interest you, that provide purpose and career fulfilment. And even if you haven’t decided yet, finding something that interests you and at which you can become good at will reap benefits longer term.