Leadership and strategic thinking are basic skills that any professional needs to possess in order to advance in their career. However, a recent survey of hiring managers discovered a large gap between the skills entry-level workers needed and the skills they possessed.

The survey found that 80 percent of the company hiring managers were searching for employees with internal financial reporting experience, but only 13 percent of entry-level workers had experience in that area.

Hiring managers also said that leadership was a quality they needed “quite a bit” from their entry-level employees, but only 14 percent of the new employees demonstrated leadership abilities.

Even though the survey highlights that these employees are prepared for entry-level jobs in audit and tax, they weren’t necessarily prepare for long-term careers in accounting management. Accounting management positions require many different skills that will not only provide the company with a fully prepared professional, but will also determine the quality of the work provided produced.

Universities like Brigham Young University are incorporating management accounting skills into their curriculum to help close this gap. Undergraduate and graduate students learn strategic thinking, business ethics and communications skills during their collegiate career.

Jeff Wilks, director of BYU’s School of Accountancy, said it is important for universities to teach students how to think strategically though issues in addition to the day-to-day skills required of financial professionals.

“We’re teaching them how to think through issues,” Wilks said. “…We’re definitely not training bookkeepers.”

This article was sourced from the New York Times’ CFO Journal

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