As an emerging technology, most people are introduced to RPA and other kinds of software automation by chance already well into their professional lives. At this point, they are still largely expected to self-educate. But programs are popping up in the higher education world where students can gain familiarity and skill with the technology before they enter the workforce.
A recent article in the Journal of Accountancy looks at an initiative being implemented by an Accounting professor at one Massachusetts institution. Accounting firms searching for young talent already trained in automation technology, are driving interest in university programs. Despite obvious interest in implementing RPA more widely, firms and departments responsible for financial reporting are still not as far along their automation journeys as they would like.
A recent survey from Deloitte, in fact, said the processes finance and accounting departments rely on for reporting are still largely manual. Finding trained personnel is one issue these companies face in trying to scale their RPA programs.
According to Professor Bryant Richards of Nichols College in Dudley, Mass., who has created the school’s Center for Intelligent Process Automation, every business student at Nichols will be exposed to RPA.
“The big accounting firms all say RPA is something they’re training their folks to understand and use now,” Richards told J of A. “Larger companies are also starting to send that message. Teaching RPA is a brilliant way to help students experience difficult-to-teach accounting concepts, even if they never end up using it in their careers. When trying to create a “bot,” or software robot, that performs a reconciliation, students explore all the facets of that reconciliation, and it really encourages them, if not forces them, to learn it a new and deeper way.”