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Keywords: VOCATIONAL SKILLS AND CAREER INTENTION OF ACCOUNTING STUDENTS
The study focused on the Vocational skills and career intention of accounting students in Ogun State owned Universities. The study is a descriptive research design survey method. The total population of the study was the entire 1030 accounting students in Ogun State Owned Universities, while stratified random sampling technique was used to select five hundred and fifteen (515) respondents representing the total population. Three research questions and three hypotheses were raised and formulated respectively generated for the study. Adopted scale on career interest and vocational skills scale were used to collect data for the study. Data collected from the questionnaire were analyzed using T-test method of data analysis to test the research hypotheses. All hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance Findings emanating from the study indicated that, there is no significant relationship between Vocational skills and career intention, that vocational skill awareness will significantly affect student career intention in financial accounting, skills in the use of accounting software will significantly affect accounting student’s career intention. The study then recommended that educators and policy makers should introduce the necessary curriculum needed to equip students with the necessary vocational skills and inform the students who intended to choose accounting as a career profession on the necessary vocational skills that are needed on the profession.
1.1 Background to the Study
In Nigeria, many youths go into unsuitable careers due to ignorance, inexperience, peer pressure, advice from friends, parents and teachers or as a result of the prestige attached to certain jobs without adequate vocational guidance and career counseling (Salami, 1999). Consequently, many of them are unsuited for their careers as they usually find themselves in jobs where they could not satisfy their value needs. When this occurs, they constitute nuisance to themselves and their employers. They are usually unable to contribute meaningfully to the society and ultimately become liability to the nation. These thus call for the urgent need of vocational skill among the undergraduate, but how does this relate in turn to the career intention of undergraduate students?
Vocational education has been regarded as that aspect of education, which provides the recipients with the basic knowledge and practical skills needed for entry into the world of work as employees or as self-employed (Oni 2007). Vocational education nurtures skills that are necessary for agricultural, industrial, commercial and economic development and thus builds a self-reliant nation. Two of the aims of vocational-technical education as stated in the National Policy on Education (2013) are: “to give training and impart the necessary skills leading to the production of craftsmen, technicians and other skilled personnel who will be enterprising and self reliant, and to enable Nigerian young men and women to have an intelligent understanding of the increasing complexity of technology”. The above aims were stated about three decades ago. Today, according to Oni (2007), the nation still lacks quality vocation-technical education programs in technical institutions. He however suggested the need to establish good vocational and technical institutions to provide the required training and impart the necessary skills leading to the production of craftsmen, technicians and other skilled personnel who will be enterprising and self-reliant. Quality vocational-technical education is also essential in Nigerian institutions to sustain the nation’s populace where quality of life is still very poor. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 2010) noted that revitalizing this important sector is among the ways to improve economic opportunities for the youth.
However, many accounting practitioners have expressed dissatisfaction with the level of accounting knowledge and skills exhibited by their new hires upon graduation from higher institutions. In fact, according to Nelson (1995) impassioned cries for changes in accounting education have come from the accounting profession since the inception of university programs. This issue has become more complex as accounting has moved beyond the use of pencils, erasers, and 12-column worksheet paper toward embracing the technology of today’s modern business environment. In short, accounting graduates need to understand and master accounting-related vocational skills which are associated with technological innovations including hardware and software in order to be productive starting with their first day on the job. Further, in order to function in today’s diverse business environment, other accounting-related vocational skills and topics may be essential, such as proficiency in a second language and creativity in problem solving. Many accounting programs and classes have been expanded beyond merely assisting students to obtain basic accounting knowledge; accounting curricula now incorporate business classes that help students obtain vocational skills in software such as Excel, Word, and Access, and learn about technology such as telecommunication software, intranets, and client/server management. Other business courses help students become aware of the impact of diverse workplaces, as well as global, ethical, and environmental issues. Even so, accounting programs have been especially inundated in the past two and a half decades with studies and position papers addressing the quality of education available for accounting students and recommending changes in educators’ approach to providing a more comprehensive knowledge of accounting especially in vocational skills.
Academic accountants have addressed some of the issues raised, albeit some believe with only a limited amount of success. The 2000 Albrecht and Sack (A&S) seminal study reporting that, in general, accounting education had not changed substantively in response to the demands of accounting practitioners and expressing concern about the future of accounting programs provided further fodder for discussion. Albrecht (2002) also took his concerns to the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which resulted in further upheaval in business schools. Later, Johnson and Halabi (2009) determined that A&S was cited in over 29% of published research papers during the seven-year period between the beginning of 2001 and the end of 2007, which is evidence of a strong reaction to their concerns on the part of the professoriate. During the same time period, inadequate accounting education in vocational skills was partially blamed for the corporate malfeasance apparent in the Enron, Equity Funding, WorldCom, Sunbeam, Arthur Andersen and HealthSouth debacles (Russell and Smith, 2003).
Joining the controversy, Lux (2000) expressed his opinion that accounting educators needed to change how they viewed curricula, their delivery methods, and how students learn if they expected to align their efforts with the AECC. In 2002 Gabbin decried the continued reluctance of accounting educators to embrace change and indicated there had been little improvement in accounting programs. He expressed concern that the accounting academic community’s resistance to change had contributed toward the loss of top students to other business disciplines.
According to Dike (2009), vocational education is then designed to develop occupational skills to give individuals the skills to live, learn and work as productive citizens in a global society. Oni (2007) further argues that vocational education holds the key to national development. For Aina (2009), it is an education for skill building and skill identity, which ultimately becomes a means of livelihood. According to Obanya (2007), vocational education is part of integral development of the ‘three Hs’ – the head, the heart, and the hands which must not be neglected, as doing that will amount to a denial of an individual’s integrated personality development. From the foregoing, it is well recognized that vocational skills remains the key to achieving economic empowerment and national development.
However, the accounting profession worldwide has come under close scrutiny in the last decade as a result of a series of high-profile corporate failures changing technology and globalization of the world economy. These change drivers have reduced the cost of information and increased the level of competition among organizations. This has resulted in a need for quicker and more decisive action by management, an emergence of new companies or industries and a requirement for new professional services and skills (Albrecht and Sack, 2000).
As a result employers are seeking a diverse range of vocational skills and attributes in new accounting graduates in order to maintain a competitive advantage despite the fact that many countries are facing a skills shortage in the area (Birrell, 2006). Recently, the training and education of accountants worldwide has been the subject of much debate and political struggle (Van Wyhe, 1994; Mohamed and Lashine, 2003). While capitalizing on traditional strengths such as independence and concern for public interest, expectations of performance placed on accounting graduates are complex and demanding requiring them to develop broader skills and be committed to continuing professional development and lifelong learning (Cooper, 2002; Howieson, 2003).
A university education should lay the foundations for a lifelong commitment by graduates to learning and professional development (West, 1998). Claims that university students are ill equipped to begin professional practice and that universities should prepare their students with a more comprehensive range of vocational skills, occupy the media almost every week causing a great deal of debate (Albin and Crockett, 1991; Hall, 1998; Mathews, 2000).
Career intrest as therefore been considered as the way the individual expresses himself and relates to society through life. Popoola (2004) sees it as a job, or profession for which one undergoes regulated education and training over a period of time and which one intends to follow for the whole of one’s life. It is thus a chosen pursuit, life work and success in one’s profession. It is the sequence of major positions occupied by a person throughout his/her lifetime. It is the totality of work one does in one’s lifetime and it is person centered. It is a meaningful progression on a person’s working life or a course pursued over a period of time (Oyetade, 2001). Choosing a career path or course of action essentially boils down to a career decision-making process. The effectiveness of an individual’s career decision-making relies heavily on the available information at the decision making point. Information is power and the more it is at one’s disposal, the easier it is to make well-informed decisions. Often times, inability to choose a career path over another tend to indicate that one is lacking in sufficient information. Although work has different meanings for human beings, essentially, it is the ‘backbone of an individual’s life” (Paulter, 1995). The presence or absence of work is perhaps the most important pivotal point in a human’s life. Generally, individuals spend their early years preparing for work, the major section of life doing chosen work, and the last part of life retired from work (Powlette, 2006). Apparently, there is the need for career readiness on the part of the accounting students the place of which is indispensable in any meaningful educational system. Although academic concern has been found to be a significant requirement in attaining career readiness, issues of personal unhappiness and vocational identity tend to superimpose it.
The essence of career development was underscored by Bojuwoye (1985) when he found out in a survey of second year college students that Nigerian students experience difficulties with issues relating to career interest more than they do with any other problem. In a study, Wollman (1975) found that 63% of his respondents were either not at all satisfied with the way they had planned their career choice or were only fairly satisfied. They confirmed the need for some form of more planning than they initially had. Consequently, majority of them were found to be willing to participate in a career guidance programme, if made available to them. The main goal of this would be to help them become aware of a decision making process, which applies directly to their career-related concerns. Sound vocational planning demands that a student makes tentative vocational commitments to provide for a sense of direction and purpose through the periods of school. At the same time, sufficient flexibility must be maintained; thereby providing for appropriate shifts in plans as maturity occurs, interest stabilizes and knowledge expands. To achieve these goals, career guidance must first provide a clear picture of true occupational needs of a given profession, as well as how these needs relate to actual vocational skills, opening with the present job market. On the other hand, students’ career interest also needs to be assessed so as to help them in learning how to make career decisions.
This study thus, examines vocational skills and career intention of accounting programme undergraduate students about the skills and attributes they consider important to their career and the emphasis placed on development of these skills during their degree program. The study also examines the skills and attributes expected by a diverse group of employers and explores gaps between student perceptions and employer expectations.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
A number of researchers ( Kavanagh, 2012, Olanrewaju, 2010) have carried out research on vocational skills acquisition, career intention and perception of students on accounting programme in higher institutions of learning. However, it as been discovered that many undergraduate students in accounting programme are not aware of the vocational skills that are necessary in the profession, while few who are aware of it does not attach the necessary importance to it which has amounted to their lost of interest in the profession. Greater proportion of the students who nurture this career intention are now loosing interest in it as a result of improper regards for the importance of vocational skill in the accounting profession.
1.3 Research Questions
The following questions will guide this research work:
1) Are accounting undergraduate students aware of the vocational skills needed?
2) Do accounting undergraduate students choose accounting as a career or ended in the course when they have no other choice?
3) What is the perception of accounting programme undergraduates towards vocational skills in accounting profession as a career?
The following hypotheses will also guide the study:
H01 There is no significant relationship between vocational skills and career intention.
H02 vocational skill awareness will not significantly affect student career intention in accounting.
H03 Skills in the use of accounting software will significantly affect accounting student’s career intention
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study is of importance today due to the poor perception of many undergraduate students of accounting toward the relevance of vocational skills that exist in accounting as a profession. The study will be an eye opener to many accounting undergraduate student on the various vocational skills that are important in the course.
It will also assist the government and the policy makers to create the necessary awareness on the importance of vocational skills in accounting to the public and reveal the reason why student must strive hard to acquire such skills. Moreover, the essence of good career intention cannot be overemphasized as it stands as the compass that leads one to the right part. Thus, this research work will enlighten the students and parents on the importance of skills in career plan.
Finally it will also suggest to the lecturers and other researchers the possible ways of motivating students toward the acquisition of vocational skills in accounting. While it will also suggest ways through which parents and school can support their ward in choosing the right career path and enlighten them on the importance and benefits of vocational skills in accounting as a programme.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study will cover all the Ogun State Universities. While the sample for the study will be restricted to students who study accounting as a management course or under the faculty of education in the universities that are owned and control by the Ogun State Government which are; Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-lwoye and Tai Solarin University of education, ljagun.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Vocational Skills: The skills that is required of any accounting profession practicers.
Career Intentions: The intended career path that is choosen by accounting undergraduate students.
Accounting Program: The University course of study that train student on accounting practice as a profession.
Undergraduate: A student that is undergoing professional training in financial accounting at any higher learning institution.
State Owned Universities: Any university that is been controlled by the Ogun State Government.
Keywords: VOCATIONAL SKILLS AND CAREER INTENTION OF ACCOUNTING STUDENTS
VOCATIONAL SKILLS AND CAREER INTENTION OF ACCOUNTING STUDENTS