Date posted: 12/01/2022

Why the new CA Program is fit for the future

The new CA Program produces graduates who are trustworthy, job ready, grounded in ethics and digitally skilled.

In brief

  • The goal of the new CA Program is to produce CAs who are job ready and able to adapt to real-world situations with essential skills.
  • The new CA Program emphasises ethics, risk and professional skills while offering courses in emerging fields such as sustainability and data analytics.
  • The curriculum has four main areas: technical, personal, business, and leadership.

By Samantha Wilson, General Manager CA Program, CA ANZ and Michelle Ryan, General Manager Education Content and Strategy, CA ANZ  

When Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) officially launched its new CA Program on 15 June 2021, it was after three years of extensive research, consultation and development. 

These are the six non-technical capabilities considered essential for future employability of a professional accountant irrespective of their level of work, career stage, location or job role. The other non-technical capabilities, while critical, will vary in importance according to the job role.

Graduating chartered accountants are increasingly expected to be job-ready and adequately equipped to handle our digital world. In this context, the CA Program was in need of adaptation.

In order to create those job-ready graduates, the new CA Program focuses on developing graduates’ professional capabilities while maintaining the high standards and rigour of the traditional CA Program – all in a flexible, online learning environment.

It puts greater emphasis on ethics, risk and professional skills and offers electives in emerging areas such as data analytics, financial modelling and sustainability. The aim is to provide flexibility and, importantly, build skills that accountants can transfer readily to the workplace.

The CA Capability framework 

To make the new CA Program more relevant to the changing shape of work, CA ANZ first had to answer the question: ‘What capabilities do the chartered accountants of today – and of the future – need?’

Answering that question guided a robust research and consultation process that CA ANZ initiated in 2017. It saw CA ANZ’s team address the changing nature of a disrupted and turbulent work environment, along with mapping the career stages, professional journeys and work needs of chartered accountants in Australia and New Zealand. The goal was to engineer the balanced development of CAs for today and tomorrow’s world of work.

After comprehensive research into the future capabilities required of chartered accountants, in 2020 CA ANZ launched its CA Capability Model. The model focuses on four domain areas – technical (professional expertise), personal (mindset and intellect), business (business context) and leadership (people and future) – and informed CA ANZ’s approach of integrating deep technical expertise and broad professional skills within the new CA Program.

Amplifying professional capabilities in the new CA Program

Throughout the new CA Program, candidates are provided opportunities to develop and practise both professional and technical capabilities through real-world engagement, authentic simulations and challenges, and embedding professional skills.

The program is delivered either fully online or through a hybrid online and face-to face schedule, but both streams emphasise the effective collaboration and team building expected in a modern workplace.

"Digital disruption and automation are transforming business and the accounting profession alike." 

Real-world engagement

Real-world engagement provides candidates valuable opportunities to practically apply what they have learned in a workplace setting.

The content of the new CA Program has been developed through extensive engagement with industry and thought leaders and includes interviews, videos and articles that link to current events and issues within the profession.

At its heart is a digital learning environment supported by online tools including a digital study guide, microlearning videos, case studies, practise questions and interactive examples.

Candidates work with digital platforms that replicate the workplace. They are asked to create workplace documents and dashboards, and apply commonly used accounting software and workplace tools such as Power BI and Excel.

In addition, the program embeds and assesses candidates’ communication, teamwork and collaboration skills through team-based activities and assessments, and networking opportunities provided via virtual classrooms.

Authentic simulations and challenges

CA Program candidates work through authentic case studies and activities that become more complex as the program progresses. These tasks also incorporate the skill of finding, using and creating real-world documents that contain ethical dilemmas hidden throughout, again replicating what can occur in an accounting practice.

Embedding professional capabilities 

Assessment is critical to the way in which the new CA Program embeds professional capabilities. The program uses invigilated exams, digital assessments, written submissions, group workshops and presentations to assess all aspects of a candidate’s capabilities. Rather than rewarding candidates for being ‘great at passing exams’, these varied assessments ensure successful candidates are ‘great at being adaptive and effective chartered accountants’.

The assessments are based on real-world scenarios, with candidates asked to prepare reports, draft emails and deliver simulated presentations to stakeholders. Rather than being presented with a defined data set, candidates are consistently required to filter large amounts of information and distil insights to make appropriate recommendations – just as they’ll be expected to do as a practising chartered accountant.

“With its real-world engagement and authentic challenges, the new CA Program integrates the development of deep technical expertise and strong professional capabilities.”

Leading the way in developing CAs of the future

Ongoing digital disruption and automation are transforming business and the accounting profession alike. While routine and repetitive tasks are quickly being ‘botted’, professional capabilities such as communication, analysis and critical thinking are becoming more important than ever.

With its real-world engagement and authentic challenges, the new CA Program integrates the development of deep technical expertise and strong professional capabilities. This approach is actively developing adaptive, critically thinking candidates who are able to apply scepticism, solve complex problems and become trusted partners in business.

new CA Program

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Hello future: the new CA Program is here

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