26th Annual Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education Meeting

Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Brigid D'Souza

Creating a talent pipeline "data map" from high school to higher education to address both talent shortage and a lack of diversity in the accounting industry

In this paper I am proposing that college accounting professors can take a proactive, strategic, and data-driven approach towards helping increase the number of high school students who want to pursue accounting in college. I am using New Jersey as the focus for my study. The accounting industry is facing a talent shortage crisis for a confluence of reasons, including changing demographics, barriers to entry, and a lack of diversity. In 2023, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) identified "root challenges" to the CPA pipeline decline including(1): The talent pool is too small, driven in part by: - shifting workforce demographics which include lower college enrollment and - lack of awareness about the accounting industry and the CPA track specifically with high school and college students There are barriers to entry for aspiring CPAs, including: - increasing college costs, - 30 additional credits are required in addition to the traditional undergraduate 120, and - expensive licensing exam costs, including preparation costs (which typically includes a prep course that can be thousands of dollars). Market forces impacting the industry persist, including the disconnect of starting salaries from new market realities The accounting industry is under pressure to both grow and diversify its pipeline of aspiring CPAs so that the profession is "reflective of the local, regional, and global communities it serves, and is better positioned to innovate around the complex issues facing organizations of all kinds and the evolving public interest." (2) The AICPA further notes that "interest in professional careers starts with exposure and awareness" and it is undertaking efforts to increase that awareness within primary education settings. One such effort is to grow awareness at the high school level. College accounting professors can take a strategic, data-driven approach to help drive this awareness. In NJ, standardized public education data is compiled by the NJ Department of Education in the "School Performance Reports" and it includes key metrics such as “career cluster” and advanced placement (AP) metrics by school. NJ has over 600 school districts and proposed steps that my paper will look at include” Creating an “accounting pipeline data map” of the accounting pipeline in NJ. By using public data from the NJ DOE, we can determine where accounting and business programs already exist at the high school level. Conversely, understanding where accounting and business programs are not offered shows areas of opportunity for building awareness. Cross-referencing the accounting pipeline data map with racial and income level data (which are also published by the NJ Department of Education) to understand areas of opportunity for building diversity within the pipeline as it relates to high school-to-college connections. Using the data from #1 and #2 above to identify target school districts for a strategic branding and awareness campaign around accounting education. Further, there is opportunity for interdisciplinary efforts: accounting professors can work with marketing colleagues to listen and learn about the localized context that is driving the low awareness of accounting and then develop an outreach campaign that can educate local high school students about the benefits of an accounting education. (1) "Draft Pipeline Acceleration Plan, version 3," AICPA, February 2023 (2) (2) STEM Education in Accounting Act, 117th Congress (2021-22) (3) “NJ Public Schools Fact Sheet,” NJ Department of Education website.