The Covid-19 pandemic has destabilised the global economy, casting a spotlight on skills and employability.
The downturn has not spared Singapore. Economists expect Singapore's economy to shrink by 4 per cent to 7 per cent this year, making this the worst recession since 1965.
As governments combat the pandemic's economic fallout, businesses are tightening their belts.
Recently, US-based recruitment firm ManpowerGroup reported that the hiring outlook among Singapore's employers for the next quarter had reached the weakest level since 2009. Businesses are reassessing what they need from employees, as well as their recruitment criteria.
According to Mr Benny Leo, the executive director of digital human resource consultancy firm iWise Group, employers are demanding a particular set of skills from accounting and finance professionals.
"They need business acumen and strategic thinking to identify new potential growth areas, a keen sense of global perspective, and the digital proficiency to navigate the workforce of the future," Mr Leo says.
In a tight job market, employers can be more selective. Job seekers and those wanting to advance their careers have to differentiate themselves from the pack.
Unlocking new skills for career progression
An excellent way to improve your employability is with an internationally recognised professional accreditation, which is what Ms Sharon Peh, Mr Allen Koh and Mr Gopul Shah have done. All three have undertaken CPA Australia's CPA Program.
A senior manager with global consultancy firm EY, Ms Peh was keen to enhance her international credentials. The CPA Program was also attractive because it offered flexible study options that fit into her hectic work schedule as an auditor.
"The CPA Australia designation, being internationally recognised, provided the flexibility for me to move abroad should good work opportunities arise," she says. "It also allows for flexible conversion to other professional accounting qualifications."
"It has also opened up opportunities for me to gain working experience overseas. I was seconded to the EY Hong Kong office as an audit manager for about one year, with the CPA Australia designation being a prerequisite for secondment."
Mr Koh has been in the accountancy field for about a decade, having attained a relevant Bachelor's degree and worked as an auditor.
"I knew that having a Bachelor's degree would be insufficient for me to take on a senior and managerial role in the future," Mr Koh says.
"I was looking for a programme that would provide extensive global career and networking opportunities with industry partners, global accreditation recognised by employers, industrial support for my career development as well as accelerate my completion of the course."
He enrolled full-time in the CPA Program, where he completed six subjects in two semesters. He says the CPA Program sharpened his skills and expanded his horizons, especially in light of the continuing volatility of the job market.
Ready for global challenges
For Mr Gopul Shah, the international scope of the CPA Program was a crucial factor in deciding to undertake the course.
"CPA Australia is a professional platform where networking, leadership, and intellectual rigour thrive," Mr Shah says. "Particularly, its global membership network remains a valuable consideration in my professional journey, complementing my role in a multinational environment."
Mr Shah joined CPA Australia through the mutual recognition agreement with The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).
"CPA Australia has an excellent reputation for building professional leadership and learning capability. I also appreciate how the course subjects align closely to real-world business applications, with an element of strategic thinking and leadership, which are useful in navigating today's environment."
For Ms Peh, the programme's emphasis on analytical skills and critical thinking was challenging and rewarding.
"The open-book format of the CPA Program examinations has encouraged critical thinking most efficiently and effectively, which is a vital skill in the challenging work environment of an auditor."
By completing the CPA Program, both Mr Koh and Mr Shah gained in-depth skills and knowledge in subjects such as Ethics and Governance, Financial Reporting, Strategic Management Accounting, and Global Strategy and Leadership.
Agile outlook, flexible learning
The flexibility of the CPA Program is also attractive, especially in light of the Covid-19 environment. CPA Australia moved swiftly to accommodate students by providing online exams, complementing the established distance learning options available to students.
Mr Koh was also impressed by the electives offered, enabling students to customise learning to their career trajectory.
"The range of subjects allows you to choose based on your interests, where you could broaden your knowledge horizon or select a subject that closely relates to your career. In my case, I selected Advanced Audit & Assurance (AAA) and Financial Risk Management (FRM) as it closely relates to my professional career."
The CPA Program provides aspiring and established accountancy professionals with the qualities employers are seeking right now. With the Covid-19 crisis continuing to create uncertainty, attaining the CPA Australia designation ensures your readiness and gives you a competitive edge in the new business landscape.
Find out more about CPA Australia and the CPA Program by attending a complimentary information session.