UNDP: New initative to address shortage of bookkeepers by 2021

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Some 500 new accountants will join the labour force by 2021 through a UNDP-backed programme to address the shortage. PIXABAY

Cambodia plans to produce 500 more skilled accountants to address the Kingdom’s shortage of bookkeepers by 2021, said UN Development Programme (UNDP) Cambodia deputy resident representative Sonali Dayaratne on Thursday.

Dayaratne said this at the launch of the Introducing the Accounting Technician Qualification project which is a joint programme between UNDP Cambodia, the National Accounting Council (NAC), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) and the Kampuchea Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Auditors (KICPAA).

Since Cambodia’s economy is becoming more integrated regionally and globally, there is increasing demand among local small- and medium-sized firms for accounting technicians.

This, she said, demands that Cambodia urgently increases the number of skilled accountants and upgrades its accounting standards to international standards so it can compete with neighbouring countries.

“There is a serious shortage of skilled accountants for private sector firms, especially small and medium enterprises in Cambodia. This is a barrier for enterprises accessing finance, government assistance or new technology.

“This is consistent with the findings of a quick survey by UNDP Cambodia among employers, which revealed that there is a difficulty for micro-enterprises and SMEs in hiring professional accountants given the limited number of skilled ones in the market,” Dayaratne said.

Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state and Chairman of the National Accounting Council (NAC) Ngy Tayi said at the launch of the programme that the future is bright for prospective accountants since there is already strong demand among local SMEs.

“Cambodia’s accounting sector will get stronger as we produce more skilled accountants – this will also build more trust among investors in our accounting and financial reporting systems.

“That will help ensure businesses and industry have proper corporate governance for monitoring their performance and operations,” he said.

Dayaratne said the lack of accounting professionals is a concern for sustaining economic growth. However, it also presents a palpable opportunity to foster and supply quality employment to young Cambodians.

“Tapping into this opportunity, UNDP initiated a partnership with NAC, KICPAA and ICAEW to develop and introduce this internationally recognised accounting technician qualification training curriculum for young Cambodians, including high school graduates and employees looking for a chance to upgrade their skills and climb up the corporate ladder.

“The scheme is expected to increase youth employability in Cambodia through opportunities for students to be trained as skilled accountants at a low cost and within a short period.

“It will help produce at least 500 more trained accountants by 2021, address the urgent needs of SMEs, which are a cornerstone of economic development, and leverage the services of capacity development institutions serving the accounting industry,” she said.

According to the Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025, only 0.02 per cent of micro-enterprises, 3.89 per cent of small enterprises and 24.11 per cent of medium enterprises in Cambodia had adequate bookkeeping.