Dec 19, 2017

Professional Education Trends and PICPA’s Choices

By Hallie C. Micali, vice president - learning and development

I recently had the opportunity to be a guest on a radio talk show on WWDB in Philadelphia where I was invited to speak about the trends impacting professional education. Through the discussion, as we emphasized the importance of remaining current as a continuing professional education (CPE) provider, I was struck by how some trends don’t always serve the needs of specific audiences.

The show’s host, Ken Dubin, president of The Dubin Group, was once a CPA who now owns a successful recruiting agency. From the perspective of both his former and current roles, Dubin had some interesting questions about the evolving education landscape.

Aimee at Leadership Academy photoOnline learning seems to be taking the place of the classroom, but the PICPA is still seeing many of our members invest their CPE time in the classroom experience. Yes, the opportunity to attend a conference or seminar event via simulcast is becoming more popular, and the interest in group study remains strong. But, despite the trend, the PICPA continues to offer conferences where topics can be explored in depth, and participants can work out solutions relevant to their own area of practice. It has been understood for a long time that professionals learn more when they can be a part of a conversation.

Having said that, the pace of the world has made it so an entire eight-hour day of CPE is not always feasible. The PICPA continues to grow its offerings of shorter programs where a specific topic can be explored in timely, focused segments. While the professional education trend may be moving toward micro or nano learning, the nature of the CPA profession oftentimes makes micro segments less than helpful. So, while the PICPA is offering in its catalog more programs that are shorter, it is taking a little more time to explore the feasibility of the nano or microlearning space. As always, our commitment to ensuring that our education offerings are useful and relevant to the profession is paramount.

Another trend in continuing education is greater interest in success skills, such as analytics and critical thinking. There is an overall drive toward competency vs. only compliance to a reporting standard. As the PICPA builds out our offerings for the upcoming year, watch for more of these programs on higher order thinking skills. We will be offering courses to not only serve your technical training needs, but softer skills as well.

Joining the radio discussion was an interesting opportunity to step back and talk about one of my favorite things: professional learning and development. It reminded me that truly serving the educational needs of an industry requires a delicate balance between knowing the trends and pairing those trends to the needs of the industry you’re serving. Sometimes being trendy is not always the best approach.

Let me know how you like to learn…whether you’re a trendsetter or a traditionalist.

To hear my conversation on WWDB’s HR Radio, click here.

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