‘There is a critical skills shortage in many regions that’s likely to get worse’

One of the events I am most looking forward to as CIMA’s new president is the final of the Global Business Challenge (GBC) in South Africa next month.

For me, this event embodies all the best qualities of the institute. The competition provides a platform upon which future business leaders can develop their skills and ambitions – whatever their background.

Corporate social responsibility is also a key element of the GBC. The integrity shown by the finalists in past years has given me great confidence that the next generation will avoid some of the cavalier mistakes made by a minority of today’s enterprises.

The importance of providing the right type of career support and guidance for the next generation was recently brought home to me when I read an article in the Economist.

The magazine calculated that almost a quarter of the planet’s young people are neither working nor studying. A third of those who are employed rely on informal or intermittent jobs, making it difficult for them to gain skills.

Meanwhile, there is also a critical skills shortage in many regions around the world that’s likely to get worse.

As a resident of South Africa, I see this problem all around me. There are numerous government-backed schemes in the pipeline here that are designed to help bring young people into work.

But it is clear to me that South Africa’s young people could benefit greatly from professional qualifications that, like CIMA’s, are both accessible to all and specifically tailored to employers’ needs.

In such regions, the institute’s mission of “helping people and businesses to succeed” could not be more appropriate.

A recent report published by the McKinsey Center for Government highlighted the urgent need for a more joined-up approach to this issue and a better-informed dialogue among governments, education providers, employers and young people themselves.

CIMA is acutely aware of the global shortage of skilled finance professionals and it takes great care to ensure that its syllabus and strategy equip members with the skills that employers need.

With this in mind, CIMA is reviewing a survey of nearly 130,000 young people who are aiming for a finance-based business career. The idea is to gain an insight into what motivates Generation Y, what ambitions are driving them and what skills they have acquired as they move on to the first rung of the career ladder.

Meanwhile, our imminent employer survey will explore what skills are most in demand in the workplace, what expectations companies have of young people and how the outlooks of these two parties can be brought together to create a mutually beneficial road map for success.

This work will then become part of a larger body of research, the results of which will be presented at the World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) in Italy at the end of next year.

CIMA and the AICPA are the main sponsors of the event under the title of the CGMA designation. WCOA is the largest and most comprehensive gathering of finance leaders and it’s an ideal forum in which to address this burning issue.

With such worrying youth unemployment figures looming, it is more important than ever that employers understand the value of our members in terms of their ability to guide the predictive, evidence-based decisions that drive sustainable – and ethical – business success.

I am very pleased to be starting my presidency at the launch of such an important project and I’m certain that the results will provide a bright beacon for young people in a careers landscape that can sometimes seem rather gloomy.

How has the institute helped your career? We’d like to hear from members and students about how the CIMA qualification has accelerated their progress. Email your story to: responses@cimaglobal.com

Illustration: Jörn Kaspuhl/Dutch Uncle



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