The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is a much sought-after qualification among students and employees across the globe. The UK-based professional body that offers programmes in management accountancy and related subjects is currently looking to revise its syllabus to make it more industry relevant. Noel Tagoe, executive director, education, CIMA, says, “We try and revise our syllabus every four to five years to keep it fresh. This time, though, with employability being a crucial challenge, we have included some subjects that will help students get a hang of what employers are really looking for in their candidates.”
Tagoe believes that there is a crisis of youth employment across the globe. “In most countries today, there are vacancies across fields, but employers feel that there are no qualified candidates to fill these spots. On the other hand, employees feel that they are not getting the kind of jobs they deserve. So somewhere along the line, there is a huge gap,” he adds. It’s almost as if they live in parallel worlds. According to a survey by McKinsey titled Education To Employment: Designing A System That Works, around 75 million qualified people from over nine countries are unemployed; only 40% of these unemployed people said they were job-ready, while 70% of education institutions said their graduates were work ready. Tagoe says, “As you can see, there is a mismatch between what employers look for in their candidates and what institutions think are relevant skills. This gap needs to be bridged. Employers look for a wide range of skills including core accounting/finance knowledge, application of accounting skills across business domains, understanding of business relations and supply chain management, strong people and leadership skills.”
The new syllabus seeks to address some of these gaps by the introduction of industry specific subjects.
“We have a module on big data and how accountants can use it. Sustainability is another new addition. With most companies focussing on sustainable practices, we are trying to see how it can be used in the finance world. We have also introduced cost accounting, risk analysis, enterprise risk, ethics and leadership,” says Tagoe.
The assessment system has also undergone a change and it will now be done online. The pattern of the papers has been tweaked to include objective type questions and case studies, he adds.
CIMA: an overview
Foundation: CIMA has a basic foundation course, followed by three levels. The foundation course comprises five subjects – business economics, management accounting, business mathematics, financial accounting and ethics, corporate governance and business law. On successful completion, you get a CIMA certificate in business accounting
Operation level: This is usually taken up by fresh graduates joining the workforce. You get a CIMA diploma in management accounting on successful completion
Management level: This is for fresh graduates and mid-level employees. A CIMA advanced diploma in management accounting is awarded
Strategic level: On successful completion, with three years of relevant industry experience, you will be a certified chartered global management accountant (CGMA)