NYC tries to repair scarcity of accountants by tapping excessive schoolers

Accounting firms are faced with a significant shortage of staff.

Between long hours, stressful deadlines, and unflattering stereotypes, more people are leaving the job than entering it.

Instead, students choose careers in related fields, such as investment banking, consulting, or data analysis, right out of college. The extra credit hours required to earn a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license don’t help either.

To appeal to the next generation of number crunchers, the Deloitte Foundation, a national nonprofit that supports teaching, research and curriculum innovation in accounting and business, is attempting a new strategy to tackle the talent pipeline problem — by reaching out directly to teenagers.

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Together, Deloitte, Urban Assembly and Outlier.org, which is working with schools to offer online college courses with credit, are launching a dual enrollment pilot program in New York City.

Beginning in the fall, some public high school juniors and seniors will be able to take the introductory financial accounting course and earn three college credits through the University of Pittsburgh, which they can then transfer to the college of their choice.

Though it’s been around for decades, dual enrollment has only recently caught on to beat some college credits during high school, according to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which showed an increase in the number of students taking complete coursework this way.

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Unlike Advanced Placement, these programs are not limited to high school students on a specific — and often accelerated — academic path.

“I teach accounting through the lens of fraud and real crime to show students a side of this industry that is exciting and takes real guts and skill,” said Kelly Richmond Pope, accounting professor at DePaul University and senior instructor on the course.

According to Outlier CEO Aaron Rasmussen, the goal is to inspire more diverse students to consider careers in accounting and potentially replicate that model in school districts across the country.

“Being able to bring accounting to a diverse audience in an exciting way will help,” he said.

The lack of diversity in the profession is another reason the industry has failed to attract young talent, separate studies show.

To this point, according to a recent AICPA trend report, only 2% of CPAs are black and 5% Hispanic, despite significant employment opportunities in this field.

According to other reports, accounting is often one of the top jobs with the best future prospects and six-figure salaries.

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