A new recognition program from the American Institute of CPAs and NAF aims to get more high schools students interested in an accounting career.
Building off an existing relationship, the American Institute of CPAs and NAF, an educational organization, developed a program that introduces high school students to the accounting profession to diversify the next generation of industry professionals.
“Accountants aren’t as visible in the community as we would like them to be—CPAs in particular—and so our goal here is to introduce students to CPAs early in their decision-making process so that when they get to the fork in the road, and they’re determining whether or not they want to go into IT, or into medicine, or into healthcare, they see accounting as an option,” said Kim Drumgo, AICPA director of diversity and inclusion and vice chair of the National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion.
NAF runs STEM academies within high schools in five topic areas that allow students to earn a specialized certification, better preparing them for college and future careers. AICPA will run this new recognition program in schools that house NAF’s Academy of Finance, offering an AICPA-specific certification to accounting students.
To earn the AICPA recognition, high schoolers must register as an AICPA Start Here, Go Places student, take a pre- and post-program survey, participate in a summer enrichment course, pass two AICPA-approved NAF accounting classes, and complete an internship. Upon high school graduation, the students receive the recognition, which AICPA will then help them put on their resume.
“When people see the AICPA and that [students] have been recognized by the AICPA, we know that it’s going to give them that extra boost when they get into college and then when they go on to pursue their CPA and other careers in accounting,” Drumgo explained.
Following the successful pilot in Florida, Maryland, New York, and North Carolina during the 2015-2016 school year, the program will expand nationwide to 209 schools starting in the fall.
Ultimately, AICPA hopes the program will diversify the profession by introducing students to accounting earlier in their schooling.
To get the best and brightest talent, the industry needs to start recruiting students early, Drumgo said. “So we’re reaching deeper into the pipeline to expose students to the accounting profession early so that we’re giving them a nice, healthy runway before they get into college. They have a lot of information and knowledge about what accountants do and the career opportunities so that by the time they graduate, they’re ready to take off.”
The relationship between the two groups that began in 2002 evolved into a partnership three years ago through discussions to increase student engagement, which resulted in this recognition program.
“We’d mapped out both the criteria as well as the behind-the-scenes technology required to make sure that our partnership offered the students a rich opportunity to learn about the accounting profession as well as giving them an opportunity to explore different career opportunities that otherwise would not have been mentioned without the partnership,” Drumgo said.
The program, which was announced at NAF Next 2016 on July 18, is free to students and the participating schools. “This is our way of investing in the pipeline of the future,” Drumgo said.
NAF President JD Hoye expressed excitement about the program in a statement: “We are honored to stand here today, alongside AICPA, and be able to offer more students the opportunity to truly understand the wide variety of career paths an accounting-focused financial education can lead them to.”