Chartered professional accountant's competencies: the synergy between accounting education and employers' needs—evidence from Alberta

Sherif Elbarrad, Walid Belassi

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study examines the competencies delineated by the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) in Canada and explores the gap between what universities provide, represented by the students' confidence in the knowledge acquired—and what the accounting profession in Canada requires and deems necessary. Design/methodology/approach: Using the 44 sub-competencies listed under the main seven competencies set by CPA, a pair of questionnaires were drafted. The first questionnaire asked post-secondary accounting students to rate their perceived confidence in these 44 sub-competencies and received 105 responses. The second questionnaire asked accounting professionals to rate the frequency and degree of use of each sub-competency in their workplace and received 72 responses. The responses to the two questionnaires were used to compare perceived student competencies with industry expectations. Findings: The study suggests an industry-neutral framework that employers and post-secondary institutions (PSIs) can use to determine where knowledge gaps exist between students' qualifications and professionals' requirements. The paper concludes that while there are synergies in many competencies in the accounting field in Canada, there are also areas of discord. Research limitations/implications: The study relies on one accredited PSI. Relying on one case study limits the ability to generalize the findings. Nevertheless, the in-depth nature of the study allows it to shed light on many key issues related to accounting education and the profession in Alberta, Canada. Originality/value: This paper adds to the existing literature by exploring the gap between what students learn and what the profession needs in the accounting field in Canada. Studying Canada adds to the accounting knowledge and draws attention to gaps that could exist in other countries. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first paper to focus on Canada from this perspective. The paper also proposes a curriculum development model that is based on market needs and applicable to all fields of knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-442
Number of pages20
JournalHigher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr. 2023


  • Accounting and finance education
  • Competence and skills
  • Competency-based education
  • Curriculum design
  • Employability


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