Investigating the preparedness of the accountancy curricula for the 4th industrial revolution
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To date, limited research has been conducted on the ability of the Accountancy curricula to prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The business environment is changing rapidly and educational institutions are not keeping up with the fast workforce skills changes. The primary objective of the study is to investigate if the current Accountancy curricula provide graduates with essential skills needed to be successful in the 4IR. One of the secondary objectives of this study was a theoretical objective to conduct a comprehensive literature review on the skills needed by accountancy graduates. Another empirical objective was to compare the proposed competency framework with the current competency framework to identify newly added skills. In addition, the proposed competency framework was used as theoretical framework to identify additional skills within peer-reviewed documents in the Accountancy curriculum. The third empirical objective evaluates the current Accountancy curricula of South African universities to determine if it addresses graduate skills needed for the 4IR by using the enhanced competency framework. Educational institutions have to adapt their Accountancy curricula to prepare students with skills for the changing technological environment. The purpose of the Accountancy curriculum aims to bridge the expectations of the labour market and the competencies of graduates to ensure employability. The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) is responsible for a framework with guidelines about curricula content for accountancy students. Accountants complete a prescribed curriculum at universities to prepare them for the labour market. Graduates need technical as well as pervasive and digital skills for the 4IR. SAICA proposed an updated competency framework to align competencies as a result of 4IR, digital disruption and stakeholder pressure. A comparison was performed which identified new skills included in the proposed competency framework. A systematic literature review (SLR) using document analysis was conducted and peer-reviewed articles were selected for the qualitative document analysis. In addition, a document analysis on the top five South African universities’ Chartered Accountant module documents related to specific skills to be developed, was performed. The dissertation was delineated specifically to the proposed competency framework (2025CF) acumens of business, decision-making, relational and digital as the major categories of inquiry. A limitation in using the publicly available yearbooks of the different universities pertained to the level of detail regarding module outcomes, which was often condensed. However, a comprehensive evaluation of the various top universities in South Africa’s curricula was performed according to the enhanced 2025CF skills. The finding of the study provide insight into the proposed competency framework, with additional skills identified from literature, which could be included to enhance the 2025CF. Likewise, the universities need to adapt the Accountancy module outcomes to include additional skills to prepare students for the 4IR. The inclusion of the additional skills identified in the SLR, to the 2025CF, as well as the adaptation of the module outcome documents to include skills from the adjusted 2025CF, contribute towards the identification and development of competencies that accountancy students have to acquire to be successful in the 4IR.