Magazine article The CPA Journal

The Missing Link in STEM

Magazine article The CPA Journal

The Missing Link in STEM

Article excerpt

The Pathways Commission report released last year provided a blueprint for the future of higher education for the accounting profession. Now, a real opportunity to make inroads on one of the report's recommendations has appeared in an unlikely place-an 800-page federal immigration bill, sponsored by New York's own Senator Charles E. Schumer.

Recently drafted by Schumer and seven other U.S. senators, the bill (S.744) mainly focuses on the ins and outs of managing the millions of immigrants who make their way into the United States each year (http://www.govtrackus/congress/bills/l 13/ s744). One of its provisions would increase the availability of Η-IB visas-that is, an employer-sponsored, temporary work permit for individuals working in specialty occupations-for applicants working or studying in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. As workplace environments throughout the world evolve, STEM skills tend to transcend cultural and economic divides. The increasing global need for employees who are trained in these areas has resulted in many education policy initiatives that focus on the STEM fields, especially because of the perception that the United States lacks individuals qualified to compete in these fields.

What does STEM have to do with accounting? As of now-nothing. That is why the NYSSCPA, other state CPA societies, and the AJCPA are urging lawmakers to expand the definition of STEM during the bill's markup phase. The bill's STEM carveout is meant to help keep well-educated individuals trained in these fields available to American businesses. Although much is said about the importance of getting an education in one of the STEM fields in today's competitive job market, accounting and taxation are not benefiting from that increased focus, even though advanced degrees in accounting and taxation are the primary fields from which firms hire. These degrees have a heavy concentration in mathematics; statistics; tax; and, increasingly, information technology. And more chief operating officers have degrees in accounting than any other field of study.

Creating A Direct Pipeline

With changes advocated by the NYSSCPA and the AICPA, this bill could potentially encode the value of accounting into the nation's laws. Just being included in the definition will encourage the perception of accounting as a necessary and vital course of study-and this will set a precedent for other programs that utilize STEM. Including accounting and taxation as a STEM-identified field will only strengthen the case that the Pathways Commission has been making in its recommendation to establish an Advanced Placement (AP) accounting course. …

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