Obinna Chima

Young finance professionals in the public sector are in the dark about their future due to a lack of transparent career paths, a new report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), has stated.

The report titled: ‘Generation Next: Managing Talent in the Public Sector,’ uncovered that young finance professionals most value clear career paths. It, however, pointed out that only 26 per cent believed that clear paths exist in their current organisation.

This report was the last in ACCA’s global Generation Next series, which explored the work preferences and career ambitions of over 1,400 ACCA members and students working in the public sector, aged 16 to 36 years old.

A large majority of the respondents believed technology would enable finance professionals focus on much higher value-added activities in the future. They are also the most likely to believe that technology will enable them to focus on such activities – with 87 per cent of public sector respondents taking this view, compared with 84 per cent across all sectors.

Speaking on Nigeria’s respondents’ views of what constituted effective learning and development in the public sector, the Head of ACCA Nigeria, Thomas Isibor said: “On-the-job learning was one of the most-used learning activities in the sector globally, with 45 per cent of all public sector respondents in Nigeria believing that the on-the-job learning was effective.

“Pursuing further professional qualifications was also ranked highly amongst professionals (39%) followed by mentoring (25%). All these learning strategies; mentoring, job rotations and coaching are forms of experiential learning, where the employee ‘learns through doing’.

“Clearly, there is an opportunity for public sector employers to increase the use of these experiential forms of learning to increase the effectiveness of their learning and development strategies.”

Also commenting on the findings, ACCA’s Head of Public Sector Policy, Alex Metcalfe said: “Generation Next respondents in the public sector say a transparent career path is the most important issue in both attracting them to an employer and retaining them there.

“Across the sector, developing talent has been a challenge given austerity and the tightening of government budgets, which often hit learning and development budgets.

“The Generation Next survey showed that 92 per cent respondents were attracted to public sector employers that would provide the opportunity for them to learn and develop skills. It is essential public organisations meet this challenge.”