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Information Technology has had considerable impact upon the working environment of accountants’. Discuss the nature of the changes that IT has brought about during the last five years within the accounting environment and identify the necessary skills (not exclusively IT related) required by graduates to prepare them to become members of the profession. During the last five years, Information Technology has brought many negative and positive changes within the accounting environment. I points I will discuss is the sharing of information and intelligence, Accounting Information Systems (AIS), the size of the accounting firm and resources, which show both negative and positive points to Information Technology changing the accounting environment. Graduates need skills to prepare for the outside world to become members of the profession. The skills required for this are good communication skills, good A level and degree results, to be a team player, interest in financial and business affairs and numerate.

The introduction of computers in the accounting environment allows accountants to share information and other accountant’s knowledge through the Internet. This allows accountants to gain more intelligence from other accountants around the world. Every accountant in a firm can access an accounting database and accounting information which saves time, as less work needs to be carried out. Data can be entered into accounts more easily. The introduction of computers has created contact between teachers and the organisation of seminars and lectures. There is scope to develop the use of computer networks and bulletin notice boards into useful information sources. Computers can make it easier to recognise valid data input data, perform functional manipulations, generate annually reports and trends, and produce accounts in the future.

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The size of the accountancy firm will influence the difficulty and sophistication of Information Technology. A large firm has more complex information flows than a small firm. Therefore, if it is to compete successfully, it must have a more complex information system. Therefore, for small firms this will all up to huge costs for computer equipment and software. Large firms on the other hand can afford to put forward huge costs and supply financial information through the computer system. Resources can be shared in different departments of the accounts firm, which makes work more efficient and time saving.

One of the main skills required by graduates would be to educational skills. A good academic track record would allow employers to see a clear correlation between past academic achievement and success in the professional examinations. Graduates are expected to complete a three-year training contract, whereas a non-graduate is expected to complete a four-year training contract. The training contract involves a combination of work experience and study for the professional examinations. Another skill required is communication skills. Communication skills are needed between the teacher and the student. Also communication skills are needed for everyday activity, such as communicating with important clients or communicating with an interviewer. Communication between employees and clients are very important to ensure financial information about the client is valid.

The graduate should be a team player, as working together is an essential skill for efficient and impressive work. It is also time efficient and this allows more work to be done in a short amount of time. The graduate needs to be numerate as the graduate would be working with numbers throughout the whole of their career doing major accounts. The graduate needs to manage his or her time effectively for an overall good prospective for the employers. Due to the financial and career pressure of passing examinations, it is difficult for the graduate to receive his or her full potential. The graduate needs to have interest in financial and business affairs. They need to know what is going on in the world with financial matters, like the world trade centre incident, which brought down market share prices.

The overall objective of computers is to improve the standards of the accounting environment. The introduction of computing into the accounting syllabus has created many problems for lecturers. Lecturers are to emphasise on the introduction to computers in terms of computer science including programming. The computer has not caused any changes to accounting concepts but it has changed the environment of accounting in practice that there must be a fundamental change in the way accounting is taught. As the professional environment of chartered accountancy is constantly updating their knowledge and skills in order to maintain their professional competence.

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