Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 6th 2017 Contents BG8 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt APRIL 6 • 2017
Who can help the region
grow its way out of crisis?
Inequality appears to be a primary im-
pediment to the current productivity
and growth crisis faced by the region.
According to the World Bank's
overview of the region in the final
quarter of 2016, the region is at a
turning point, after years of recession mar-
ginal GDP growth in 2017 and 2018 will be
achieved based on "the strength of external
markets and the capacity to address macro-
The bank calls on the region to continue
"investing in people, particularly the poor"
to continue and possibly improve recent social
gains. However, during the current climate
of depressed commodity prices, increased
investment is hard to come by.
Many economies in the region are suffering
and are simply unable to increase investment,
quite the contrary in fact. T&T finds itself in
light of sustained depressed commodity prices
to have to restructure the Government Assis-
tance for Tuition Expenses (GATE).
T&T is by no means alone as difficult deci-
sions are occurring in Barbados and Jamaica,
among other countries, due to rising debt levels
and managing IMF arrangements respectively.
How can a region that is financially con-
strained grow out of the perennial problem
of inequality which directly impacts their
productivity and exports?
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT)'s 2017 Complexity of Exports study
confirms that, with all other things being
equal, societies that are more equal produce
higher value exports.
Regional governments need to look for op-
portunities that promote the social mobility
of the poor and vulnerable.
Improving access to education has always
been a strong tool to enable social mobility.
Non-traditional routes to higher education
need to be explored as financial constraints
are increasingly hindering many students from
being able to go to university.
For those secondary school leavers who have
the talent and the desire but lack the financial
means, a professional or vocational qualifica-
tion can be an alternative route to success. But
these studies have been regarded as inferior
to a more traditional college education. The
reality, though, is that things are changing and
conventional wisdom regarding educational
outcomes are simply no longer true.
One example is finance, an industry that
embraces alternative forms of study. When
a qualification is challenging, rigorous, re-
spected and benchmarked to an undergrad-
uate and master's level tertiary education it
has the ability to deliver to the talented but
poor rungs to a ladder that can ultimately be
the rising tide that lifts all boats. Careers in
the accountancy profession can be pursued
by any ambitious individual.
It is becoming increasingly acknowledged
that accountants are vital to driving down
costs, identifying drivers of value and profita-
bility, obtaining new finance, and strengthen-
ing balance sheets. Accountants are the back-
bone of business. Businesses and economies
across the globe are recognising the importance
Issues that accountants are supremely well-
placed to tackle---whether it's accounting for
carbon usage; the bottom line; or maximis-
ing business profitability---have risen to the
top of the agenda. This makes it an ever more
exciting and rewarding profession in which to
The ACCA (Association of Chartered Certi-
fied Accountants) qualification, for example, is
currently being studied by 480,000 graduates
and non-graduates worldwide, over 15,000 of
which are in the Caribbean. Job prospects for
these individuals are promising. With much of
the ACCA programme centred on ethics and
professionalism, qualified accountants are in
high demand in the Caribbean.
The opportunity, however, in addition to the
regional demand, is the international demand
that can be outsourced by the region, an un-
tapped high value export opportunity. One
recent example is BHP Billiton's relocation of
finance and accounting back office operations
from the US to T&T.
ACCA members can be found working in the
world's leading Big 4 accountancy firms---as
well as for multinationals---from Shell to JP
Morgan and for any number of small businesses
or small accountancy practices. What's more,
pursuing an accountancy qualification doesn't
limit people to an accounting job. Many of the
skills taught on the course are transferable.
Qualifications like ACCA equip people with the
skills and tools needed to achieve their dreams.
There are various employment services
across the Caribbean that are currently as-
sisting those already in need of help, yet there's
more to be done across the region to meet the
social mobility challenge.
More needs to be done to promote the busi-
ness case for improving social mobility. Broad-
ening the talent pools from which employers
can recruit is good for business and the region.
Diversity brings new ways of thinking
which often leads to innovation and greater
productivity. Many businesses get this, but
more needs to be done to support all busi-
nesses in developing inclusive recruitment
processes that do not inadvertently exclude
For larger employers, they must work to
collect data on the socio-economic diversity
of their workforces. This will encourage com-
panies to look more closely at the way in which
they recruit new talent and may help them to
identify and address issues around inclusion.
Businesses must also look at creating ap-
prenticeships, offer a real opportunity to
open up access beyond the traditional grad-
uate routes and remove artificial barriers to a
profession to improve its diversity.
Lastly, we must remember how important
career advice is to ensuring people are aware
of the career options available to them at early
Learning about professional career options
at a young age can be a simple but positive step
in broadening access to various professions,
and raising aspirations amongst young peo-
ple. If people are not aware of the entry routes
into professional careers, then inclusion will
remain a challenge.
Increasing social mobility to create a fairer
society in the Caribbean and indeed across the
world is essential to narrowing the inequalities
that exist. Ultimately the government cannot
do it alone, the private sector, businesses small
and large, with academia need to come together
to establish a clear and cohesive plan to achieve
ACCA will certainly be found at that table.
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