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The CPA pipeline: Front and center

October 17, 2023

The word “pipeline” is everywhere these days, but what do we really mean by that? Essentially, the CPA pipeline is the queue of next-gen accountants — beginning with students’ piqued interest in accounting in middle school all the way through young professionals deciding to stick with the profession long term.  

We dissect the issue in more detail in the summer 2023 Disclosures (see “Tackling the CPA Shortage Head On” for more info), but essentially, decreasing college enrollment overall, fewer students choosing accounting, fewer young professionals sitting for the CPA Exam, and a competitive hiring landscape are all affecting the pipeline. 

Our CPA leaders have responded. Several of the VSCPA’s strategic goals for fiscal year 2023–2024 aim to directly tackle the pipeline, from real, tactical changes we can make at the university level to public relations campaigns targeting students. This year you’ll hear us talk about the following targets: 

Advocate for meaningful change to improve the pipeline. Since our special Board Task Force on the 150-hour requirement has wrapped, we’re continuing the conversation with national stakeholders. VSCPA Vice President, Advocacy, Emily Walker, CAE, is sitting on the AICPA National Pipeline Advocacy Group. 

Increase the diversity of the profession. Our investments in the Center for Audit Quality’s Accounting+ initiative, partnerships with NABA Richmond, and relationships with the accounting programs at Virginia’s historically Black colleges and universities all aim to increase DEI. 

Communicate pathways to 150 to faculty and advisors. There are a lot of different options available on the path to CPA, and ensuring students know all the options are half the battle. 

Help college accounting programs become STEM-approved. Getting accounting recognized as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field will elevate its exposure and increase awareness to the profession.  

Expand the CPAs in the Classroom program. This is where you come in! This November, we’re kicking off Accounting Careers Month to promote the exciting opportunities available to students in all areas of accounting. Part of the success of this month will be directly connecting you — the ones who can speak to the rewards of a CPA career —with Virginia’s students. We have resources to walk you through it, and I encourage you to give it a try. Members who have done it report positive experiences and often go back year after year! 

Get involved in Accounting Careers Month by checking out vscpa.com/AccountingCareersMonth and see all of our pipeline efforts at vscpa.com/CPA-Pipeline. Questions, comments or feedback on our efforts? Email me at [email protected]