This year, the education systems in the world witnessed unprecedented turmoil due to the Coronavirus pandemic, as most schools and universities in the world closed their doors to more than 1.5 billion students, or more than 90% of the total learners, according to recent figures issued by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
Education experts agreed that post-COVID education will not be the same as before, especially with the emergence of an infrastructure that uses the data of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and artificial intelligence systems, and that there are expected transformations that will be significant and structural in education patterns, methods, trends, policies, and systems, whether at the level of public or university education. Signs of these transformations have already begun to appear.
One of the most prominent transformations of education in the post-COVID era – which we are starting to feel some of it – is the strongly rising trend towards the use of advanced technologies, and the establishment of more portals and platforms for various stages of education. To better understand the future of education, Daily News Egypt interviewed Rishi Malhorta, the Academic and Community Relations Manager Middle East & Africa at the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).
Who is the IMA?
The IMA is one of the largest and most respected associations focused exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession. With more than 100 years of history of management accounting innovation and insight, IMA is a global member association for those professionals involved in strategy, financial planning and analysis, and other areas that enable organizational growth. The institute is present in about 150 countries, with more than 400 branches around the world, and offers the CMA certificate to enhance skills at work, to manage companies better, to improve the career, and build a practical future in the field of management accounting.
What is your expansion plan for the current year?
As an institution actively involved in supporting the finance and accounting profession around the world, it is essential for us to be present in the key markets. This includes major countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia where there is a large and growing community of industry professionals. Our presence on the ground enables us to establish strong alliances with all the stakeholders who contribute to the enhancement of the profession, such as higher education institutions, government bodies, and corporate leaders with whom we work closely in the region. With an office about to open in Egypt, we look forward to more such collaborations through which we can add value to the aspiring finance accounting community as well as the established body of professionals in the country.
What are the institute’s criteria for expansion in counties?
The main objective before opening an office in any country is the feasibility of presence in that country and the opportunities for growth. It is also about the scale and importance of that market. For example, Egypt is emerging as one of the major economies in the Middle East with an educated workforce looking to connect and reinforce its regional and global presence. Such power is undeniable, and we want to be part of it.
What is the role of the CMA certification in bridging the gap between education and labour market requirements?
With drastic global changes powered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digital disruption, and more recently a global pandemic, the skills gaps for every sector and industry under the sun are widening by the day.
Imparting knowledge that is applicable in the workplace of today, the main role of the CMA certification is to build capacity among students and professionals by combining analytical and strategic methods, in addition to providing them with personal skills and the opportunity to build professional networks while still studying. In today’s dynamic business ecosystem, it is crucial that enterprises and academia both re-imagine the future of the profession. We need to revisit the finance model, as well as integrate it with emerging technologies to give the finance function a more strategic edge. The IMA is continuously preparing for this future by working with professionals and institutions of higher learning to support the advancement of the accounting and finance profession with the aim to bridge the skills gap by connecting students and professionals with the insights and analyses that will empower them to advance their career with confidence. Our process turns professionals into lifelong learners able to use the certification to step ahead and the IMA resources to remain abreast of trends impacting the profession.
In your opinion, what are the jobs most needed in the labour market?
There have been tremendous debates over what the jobs of the future will look like. While the entire world is wrapping its head around this aspect of work, what we default on is the skills needed in the future. Through a variety of reports published by IMA, regionally and globally, we have explored the role of the finance function in the future and can tell you that the skills needed are very different from what the profession once stood for. With automation taking over all the mundane and basic rote tasks traditionally performed by the profession, we have seen the finance and accounting professionals emerge as strategic partners at the helm of the organizational decision-making process. What that tells us is that the jobs of the future – at least within the finance and accounting profession – will require strategic thinkers capable of reading, understanding, and leveraging data beyond the conventional roles they had in the past.
There is a huge demand, across the sectors, for young professionals skilled enough to utilize emerging technologies like AI and robotics, especially in finance.
Several universities in the region have begun to teach elective courses for a limited time on artificial intelligence and other technologies to keep pace with technological progress but there remains a need to create robust educational and up-skilling ecosystems capable of meeting the talent demand of these industries.
What are the advantages of the CMA certification?
There are many certifications that intersect with each other, but each of them has a value that it focuses on and offers. The most important aspect is not what certification the student will obtain, but obtaining one to remain relevant in today’s fluctuating global marketplace.
The CMA certification is a professional and highly recommended credential offered by IMA. It acknowledges a person’s skills and expertise in management accounting, corporate finance, business management, and strategic planning.
The CMA has an advantage over other courses when it comes to bringing strategic thinking, applied work experience, and the ability to convert data into dialogue. It helps businesses to close the skills gap and gain a competitive edge in the market. Our candidates can register for the exams in any testing window to be taken remotely without having to go to a Prometric Test Center.
What was the impact of COVID-19 on education?
The Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the culture of education in many ways. For one, it has driven educational institutes worldwide to change not only the content they teach but also, the means in which they educate their students. In a way, it has imposed an acceleration of the inevitable: a complete revisiting of existing curricula and the need for reform.
In these volatile times, there needs to be a combined effort from academia and the business sector to address new learning and skilling challenges introduced by the pandemic and work towards bridging them.
What are the aspects of cooperation with Egyptian universities?
As a global institute, we work closely with the higher education sector in a variety of capacities. In Egypt, we have many alliances with the likes of are open to dealing with all public and private universities in Egypt.
We also have a number of private sector partners that we collaborate with in the country, topped by Elsewedy, Orascom, etc.