The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has released an updated version of its plan to increase both the number of accounting graduates who pursue a career in the profession and those who go on to obtain a CPA license.

The detailed plan, which builds on earlier drafts to create a nationwide CPA pipeline strategy, will be presented next week at the spring meeting of the AICPA’s governing council. AICPA leadership is looking to move forward with a consensus approach for both quick and long-term actions to attract future generations of accountants and CPAs.

AICPA CEO of public accounting, Susan Coffey, said: “Building the CPA pipeline requires a united effort from all stakeholders tied to the profession.

“We need to work together to raise awareness about the rewarding work we do, broaden the range of talent we draw from, and address stumbling blocks that derail too many prospective CPA candidates. As the largest national body for the accounting profession, the AICPA is uniquely positioned to channel ideas into action and mobilise efforts in a coordinated way to achieve success. Our plan offers a framework for moving forward but is by no means the last word – this is an evolving process that will require resolve, foresight and close collaboration with important partners.”

There are numerous factors leading to a decline in the number of accounting graduates and of those who go on to obtain a CPA license. Some are not unique to the profession, such as falling college enrollments due to demographic shifts and rapidly rising education costs that have led some to question the value of a college degree. But misperceptions about the nature of a career in accounting, lower entry-pay than some comparable fields, and a licensure process that can be complicated have also played a role.

The AICPA engaged in a dialogue with numerous stakeholders before publishing its plan, including state CPA societies, accounting firms, academia, state boards of accountancy and their organising body, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Going forward, we intend to create a clearinghouse for innovative and meaningful pipeline ideas and convene stakeholder forums to work through issues, set data-driven goals and measure outcomes to ensure accountability.

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