An inquiry into the perceived skills gaps of professional accountants in Kenya : the case for innovative training and examination methodologies
This research was aimed at identifying the skills gaps of accountants working in various sectors of the Kenyan economy. These skills are both technical and non-technical (vocational, additional or complementary). In addition, the research was aimed at identifying the most appropriate method of training accountants, the length of time that is most appropriate for training accountants, the length of time that student accountants should spend in practical training, the most appropriate methodology or methodologies for teaching accountants and finally, the most effective methods of assessing the competence of accountants. The research was done through self-administered questionnaires among selected organizations. In relation to technical skills, skill gaps were identified in the areas of forensic auditing, the East African tax management protocol and the Customs and Excise Act. In additional (vocational or complementary) skills, gaps were identified in the use of social media, public speaking, persuasiveness, presentation skills and finally negotiation skills. With regard to the method of training preferred for accountants, respondents settled for a combination of academic and professional courses. A period of between 3 and 5 years was indicated as the most appropriate for training accountants. The research findings also indicate that student accountants should be trained practically for a period of between 1 and 2 years. The teaching methods recommended for accountants, in their order of preference were tutorials, distance learning, lecture method and finally case methodology. With regard to the assessment methods most suitable for accountants, the research findings indicate that paper-based examinations and real-life business cases would be most ideal.The research findings indicate that practical attachment is not a favored method of training. The research findings are also in general agreement with the view that technical knowledge is best assessed through paper-based examinations.