• Accountancy graduates' employability: narrowing the gap between employers' expectations and students' perceptions - the role of H.E.

      Lawson, Alison; Neary, Siobhan; Anastasiou, Efimia Filothei (University of DerbyThe American College of Greece - Deree College, 2020-01-31)
      The purpose of this research was to examine the necessary employability skills accountancy graduates are required to possess by exploring employers’ and students’ perceptions, against the backdrop of the prolonged financial crisis in Greece since 2009, and record-high graduate unemployment rates. From this, the study sought to understand how the two groups saw graduate student employability being developed as part of an accountancy and finance degree programme, and their transferability to the workplace. A focal point of concern in the study, was that of the value of an accounting and finance degree in relation to employability, which has never been fully investigated. The research adopted an interpretive qualitative approach. Thematic analysis was used to interpret data obtained from interviewing 30 students with an accounting and finance background from four different universities situated in Athens and Piraeus, and a sample of 12 employers across a wide range of industries (including the Big-4). The findings of this study provide support that employability, more for employers and less for students, was influenced by a variety of personal attributes and situational contextual factors, and was not simply about possessing certain generic skills which has so vastly dominated literature over the past years. To that end, a reframing of the factors that enhance accountancy graduate employability has been proposed, drawing from on a number of conceptual models in the existing literature and by the findings of the study. The study also contributes to the growing discussions regarding the general role of higher education in developing the necessary skills and attributes accounting graduates will require for the profession. Twenty percent of the student cohort were working in a relevant accountancy position at the time of the interview, and the analysis of the results shows that there were marked differences in the cohort’s perceptions, between students and those that had graduated and were in a working position. This suggests that a longitudinal qualitative research study could be a sound basis for future research in order to explore whether the working environment influences the perceptions of students as they transition into their job roles resulting in their opinions changing.