Building upon the work of the previous workshops and GDLN, aims of the event were to:
- Increase awareness of the relevant IAESB-International Education Standards (IES) and EU practices in ensuring qualified accountants and auditors possess the minimum experience, competencies and skills.
- Contribute to develop an agreed identified common content and available resource to support economy-level implementation.
- Strengthen links between universities, professional bodies and regulators in formulating and implementing improved education programs.
Thirty-one participants from all Regional REPARIS countries (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia) attended the workshop representing ministries of finance, public oversight bodies, professional accountancy bodies, and academics. The feedback of the participants was very positive. Participants confirmed that the community of practice format within the Regional REPARIS program greatly helps discussions between economies within the region thus fostering peer learning and cooperation.
The workshop was moderated by Etienne Wenger, who is the CFRRs adviser on the formation and development of Communities of Practices, with technical experts from the CFRR.
The Community first continued the theme introduced by Paul Hurks at the February 8th 2010 GDLN, which was the "common content" model by examining in detail the learning outcomes associated with the role of the Statutory Auditor that are common to the various EU professional bodies that are members of the Common Content program, and agreed that, with very few exceptions, the common content and associated learning outcomes represented a good shared model for implementation in the region.
Dominic Light, from the UK based global accountancy education materials publisher BPP gave a presentation to highlight the availability of updated educational materials that could be obtained by specialist publishers, and customized for incorporation into national and regional programs. This presentation was relevant as participants became aware that there was a source of annually updated materials that covered the common content, and could be licensed for translation and use in the REPARIS region. He cited the example of SCAAK Kosovo, where BPP has entered an agreement which provides them with a solution to the major challenge faced by all REPARIS economies, which is ensuring that educational materials are updated as often as necessary to ensure coverage of the current International Standards in Auditing and Financial Reporting, and the EU acquis communautaire. During the Question and Answer session, it emerged that a number of the bodies including Serbia already had similar arrangements with international publishers, and these were not cost-prohibitive, once the initial translations were carried out.
Almir Kovacevic, Director of World University Services, (WUS Austria) which is an NGO funded by the Austrian Development Corporation gave a presentation on the work of WUS Austria in the REPARIS economies in promoting University reforms, with relevance to business and accounting education. Almir highlighted the regional approach of WUS’s activities in the University sector, and areas for possible future co-operation with REPARIS both regionally and nationally. He highlighted the demand-driven culture WUS was trying to promote within Universities; under which encouragement and support is provided for studies to determine the skills needs of the economy as a driver for future University course design. The Q&A session offered the University participants in particular to learn of specific initiatives in their respective economies.
Maria Musatova, senior financial management specialist with the World Bank provided an overview of the report on a World Bank study which she co-authored entitled "Establishment of modern accountancy education in the CIS". Highlighting the experiences of economies that have since joined the European Union, this presentation and subsequent Q&A provided an insight into how similar the challenges faced by the new EU states were, as compared with the REPARIS economies.
Finally, Etienne Wenger hosted a unique "fishbowl" shared learning technique during which detailed presentations prepared by Luc Cardinal and Liam Coughlin on the approaches of UK and Canadian bodies to setting, measuring, recording and monitoring the quality of practical experience for accountants and statutory auditors were disseminated.
The Community of Practice continues to flesh out in greater detail the specific issues of concern to participating economies with a view to devising common and scalable solutions.
The next workshops and GDLNs will provide the opportunity to explore these themes in further detail, and also address practical solutions to the development and implementation of continuing professional education, and consider the IAESB proposed revision to IES-8, on the competence requirement for audit professionals.