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September 29, 2008

Student numbers surge promises relief for Indian skills shortage

Unprecedented student numbers and the introduction of second-tier accounting qualifications are helping alleviate a skills shortage in India that is predicted to double during the next five years.

Industry figures speaking with International Accounting Bulletin sister publication The Accountant for the 2008 India survey estimated the nation had a shortage of 500,000 accountants.

In this year’s survey, Kunal Banerjee, the president of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India, estimated that within five years the shortage will reach one million.

Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) president Ved Jain was more optimistic and was backed by student figures.

Jain said the average number of Indian students beginning the ICAI course each year between 2000 and 2005 was about 25,000. That jumped to about 99,000 in 2006 and 151,000 in 2007. Indications are the trend is continuing into 2008.

“I am now confident by the year 2011, because it is a four-year course, the number of chartered accountants registered with our institute will be more than double of what we are at present,” Jain predicted. The institute currently has almost 150,000 members.

The Indian accounting profession’s skills shortage is also being tackled by the creation of second-tier accounting qualifications. The ICWAI is launching an accounting technicians qualification next month and the ICAI is hoping to start its own by December.

In both cases, after completing the technicians course, students will have the choice of continuing on to complete the full professional qualification. Likewise, if a student studying for the full qualification cannot continue, they can still obtain the technicians title.

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