Extra training for graduates and
up-skilling IFRS knowledge are two education issues being addressed
by German firms, according to a recent study by The Accountant.

A Big Four firm is increasing the amount of
on-the-job training it provides graduates due to recent changes in
university education, which essentially waters down the amount of
education students receive at tertiary level.

The German accounting education system is
still feeling the effects of the Bologna Declaration of 1999, where
the Ministers of Education from 29 European countries agreed to
create a single European higher education area with the aim of
making academic standards more uniform throughout Europe.

As a result, Germany is a process of changing
its education system from the current diplomas to a
bachelor/masters degree system. This will mean German accounting
students study for three years. Under the diploma scheme, students
required up to six years of university.

Firms will potentially incur education
expenses as they change internal processes, systems and set up more
training for their graduates.

“There will be bachelor graduates starting to
work with an academic education of three years rather then the five
or six years previously. It is quicker to get [students] through,
but they learn less at university, so we will have to set up
specific training for bachelor graduates,” KPMG Germany head of
audit Joachim Schindler explained.

“[KPMG is] rolling this out within the next 12
months. Training will not only be on the job but also in the
classroom or e-learning.”

KPMG is the second largest firm in Germany in
terms of fee income and reported revenues of €1.2 billion ($1.5
billion) in the year to September 2007, according to the
International Accounting Bulletin’s most recent survey of the
industry (see issue 429).

Despite the economic crisis, the Big Four
firm’s intake of graduates in 2008 did not differ from 2007,
Schindler says. About 1,300 graduates were hired by KPMG in

Meanwhile, a mid-tier firm said additional
IFRS training has become necessary to ensure all staff gained an
in-depth knowledge of the standards, following a recent inspection
by a financial reporting watchdog.

BDO Germany chief executive Christian
Dyckerhoff said the firm had to step-up IFRS education for staff in
2008, following its most recent Financial Reporting Enforcement
Panel (FREP) inspection.

“All our staff had to know the IFRS in depth,”
Dyckerhoff explained, adding this was in contrast to the firm’s
previous system where auditors had a basic knowledge of IFRS and
could consult the firm’s IFRS department with any queries.

The FREP monitors the financial statements of
listed companies and has been conducting detailed inspections on
whether the statements are in accordance with IFRS.

“It is necessary to have more IFRS knowledge
in place rather then to have to ask the clients themselves. It is
also too long a process if we always have to ask the central IFRS
department [for the answers].” Dyckerhoff added.