Even in the age of automation, Forbes recently declared tomorrow’s accountant as “more relevant, strategic and creative than ever.”

“Accounting may become less about refining one’s skill set through certifications and more about core competencies that grow over time, with a focus on lifelong education and skill development required to take on a complex, ever-changing business environment,” Forbes stated.

The accountant of tomorrow, and today, is a critical thinker and collaborative partner. While machines do the repetitive work, accountants will be using AI-generated insights to drive innovation and contribute to strategic plans.

In this climate, continuing education becomes more than a mandated task. The same AI revolutionizing global workplaces is also transforming the future of continuing education, turning it into a powerful tool for keeping pace with the skills needed for accounting in a changing world.

Evolving technology

Education has changed so quickly that it’s hard to recall when students sat in classrooms and listened to a teacher. Technology has shifted how learning is delivered and how people learn and engage with materials. Consider these fundamental developments impacting future trends in continuing education:

  • VR for lifelike simulations: Virtual and augmented reality aren’t just for play. Virtual reality immerses learners in a visual pool of information and situations. Audit inventory in a warehouse, make onboarding engaging with videos or promote collaboration by putting a 3-D image into the middle of a virtual meeting. 
  • Streaming: Learning used to be like appointment TV. Sit down to consume the material at a time scheduled by someone else, or you miss it. Streaming options let users choose the time and place. You can be in a coffee shop, on a plane, or sneaking in 45 minutes of study after the kids go to sleep. You can move through your courses at a faster pace for instant application in the workplace.   
  • Learn from world-class experts: Remote learning links learners with the world’s most renowned experts and best educators.

How to calculate CPE credits

In 2014, AICPA issued its Future of Learning report. The profession’s groundbreaking effort to make learning relevant anticipated the changes we face today. The task force report identified four key objectives:

  • Innovate and experiment 
  • Ignite a passion for learning 
  • Make learning personal 
  • Measure what matters

The “measure what matters” goal threw a curveball into longstanding processes for measuring CPE credits. After all, as challenging as it can be to track down accountants on the team and certify their learning progress, the credit hours still add up with mathematical precision. Measuring what matters is another ballgame in the future of continuing professional education.

As CPE evolves, how do employers tally knowledge and skills acquired? If one accountant completes a learning course in one hour, and another finishes the same course in two hours, do they each get those hours on their CPE sheet, or is it more important to show competency in the subject? The issue remains unsettled, but accounting firms are continuing the conversation in their search for answers.

Virtual events can drive greater participation

Old physical barriers are gone. Learners and teachers connect across the miles, and space limitations don’t restrict the number of students who can sign up for a course. By leveraging future trends in continuing professional education, accounting firms and the profession elevate their cumulative knowledge because more people are signing up for courses on the hottest issues. Accountants who are lifelong learners can take CPE in any topic that interests them.

For employers, an increasingly skilled workforce with barrier-free access to on-demand learning expands and diversifies the pool of job candidates. Of course, to individual accountants, easier access to learning can make the field more competitive by equipping more of their peers with timely and in-demand skills. It’s also where employers see opportunities to recruit top talent and reach diversity, equity and inclusion goals.

Instructors must be innovative to spur engagement

Quality online learning is more than lecturing in front of a computer. In the future of continuing education, instructors must hone their abilities to deliver engaging and relevant learning. The right digital platforms with breakout rooms and opportunities for sharing materials and asking questions keep learners involved. Sparking discussion and connections among learners is crucial to instilling learning that lasts while also facilitating networking among dynamic professionals.

Surgent CPE: Unique and state-of-the-art

Surgent is a leader in the field of continuing professional education for accounting and financial professionals. Consider the advantages you and your firm can gain from more than 1,500 CPE webinars each year, an entire library of self-study courses, tailored in-firm seminars and training, and accounting exam prep programs for several core credentials and certifications. Surgent CPE leverages technology to save your firm money and time for more efficient delivery of CPE that keeps accountants abreast of fast-moving developments.

With Surgent, your professionals receive relevant, engaging and up-to-date continuing education while you minimize the administrative challenges that come with trying to manage and deliver CPE internally. 

  • Firm CPE Portal. Are your team members keeping their certifications valid? Is anyone in danger of non-renewal? The portal offers instant access to detailed performance reports about your employees’ progress and usage of your flex access hours. 
  • Timely content. Surgent’s industry experts provide real-time releases of content when your staff needs it most. Your team can learn about the latest trends even before they appear on the horizon. 
  • All-in-one courses. Your team can put their CPE learning to work immediately for tangible ROI on your CPE investments. 
  • Monthly webinar series. Timely industry updates mean that sudden developments in the field never blindside your staff. 

Make CPE work for you

Future trends in continuing education are reshaping the learning landscape. Future-forward accountants keep pace by leveraging technological advances to build dynamic and relevant skill sets. They are prepared for the future of accounting through a customized continuing education strategy that makes their administrative, managerial, analytical and strategic capabilities.

In short, they are leveraging technology to equip themselves with the power to do the things that technology can’t do. Their sophisticated human insights drive innovation within their businesses and for their clients. Ready to experience the future of continuing education? Visit Surgent CPE for a fresh approach to continuing education that matters.

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