In 2021, INCPAS outlined its 3 Strategies for Building the High School CPA Talent Pipeline, which included a new membership type for high school students. The Society now has more than 100 high school student members and communicates CPA stories and impact statements with them throughout the year.
The next phase of this strategy is to create pathways and remove the barriers for potential or aspiring CPAs enrolled in college. To achieve this, INCPAS leadership has identified the following areas as those that can help make a meaningful impact in a challenging student talent market.
“There is no silver bullet when it comes to creating and maintaining a strong CPA talent pipeline,” said INCPAS President and CEO Courtney Kincaid, CAE. “If we’re going to move the needle, the profession needs sensible solutions at every step of the CPA journey. From high school through licensing, INCPAS seeks to provide real-world solutions along with a healthy dose of encouragement—this is a wonderful, fulfilling profession.”
Strategy 1: Reduce time and logistical barriers with the 120-to-sit & exam changes rule
Key factors contributing to the current shortage of the CPA pipeline include: declining college enrollments, rising tuition fees, logistical hurdles in studying for the CPA exam, and restrictions on taking the CPA exam in limited timeframes — timeframes imposed by the Capacity remains limited during COVID. 19 closures.
INCPAS is in the final stages of completing a regulatory change process that will remove barriers for accounting students pursuing their CPA license and career in Indiana by:
- Moving Indiana to join the group of 47 jurisdictions that allow candidates with 120 credit hours to take the exam. while still requiring 150 credit hours for licensing
- Remove CPA exam section names and windows and allow for continuous testing and retry of failed sections
- Incorporate changes to the CPA exam that align with the new CPA Evolution Model curriculum, rolling out in 2024, that includes core competencies as well as future-oriented disciplines
This allows more students to partially or fully complete the CPA exam, greatly increasing their likelihood of later becoming licensed CPAs in Indiana.
This rule change is expected to go into effect on November 2, 2022.
Strategy 2: Break down study barriers with scholarships
The Indiana CPA Educational Foundation Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to college INCPAS students pursuing their accounting major and final entry into the CPA profession.
Grants cost $1,000 to $2,000 per year and are renewable up to a total of $5,000 per recipient, based on the recipient meeting the renewal criteria.
Currently, eight aspiring CPAs representing five Indiana universities will receive a total of $13,000 for this program year. Three of them are graduates of INCPAS Scholars, a year-long career awareness and mentoring program for high school students.
Applications for the academic year 2023/24 are now possible.
Strategy 3: Improve employer access and connections
Awareness and access to opportunities can be challenging, so INCPAS works to provide both through the following program for college students interested in accounting.
- INCPAS Meet the Profession Night. This networking event offers high school students and INCPAS grantees the opportunity to meet and network with our member organizations in a more informal setting. Unlike a traditional careers fair, there are no booths and materials set up – instead, attendees are encouraged to meet and engage in deeper conversations. This year’s Meet the Profession Night will take place in January 2023 at the INCPAS Learning Center.
- INCPAS guide for employers. The just released 2022-23 INCPAS Employer Guide is an annual publication shared with members, students, CPA candidates and educators to ensure it reaches a diverse audience nationwide. This includes the latest information on the CPA exam, study tips, advice from current CPAs, networking events, and internship and job opportunities from Indiana-based organizations looking to hire.
- Diversity, equity & inclusion partnerships. Organizations looking to invest in a more diverse talent pipeline can partner with INCPAS as either a program-specific sponsor or now as a year-round professional partner – organizations that have made this commitment for 2022-23 include BGBC, Cummins, Deloitte and OneAmerica. Not only does your participation help build and retain more CPAs overall, but it also helps introduce them to students so they can get a feel for the company culture and the opportunities of a CPA license.
The INCPAS Board of Directors has established a task force to identify additional risks and opportunities for CPAs in the Indiana talent pipeline that will be reflected in the initiatives of INCPAS’ Strategic Plan 2023-24.