The coronavirus pandemic has made it a challenge for those needing continuing professional education (CPE) coursework to maintain their CPA licenses.  Hopefully employers are providing the environment necessary for employees to access the resources needed to maintain their professional licenses.  Fortunately there are some best practices that employers can put in place to ensure they are providing the best resources to their employees in regards to continuing professional education.

Developing Multi-Year Continuing Professional Education Plans

It is important for employers to have a game plan for their continuing education program, both on a company-wide level and on an individual employee level.  On a firm-wide level, a well-developed budget helps the company to maximize the amount of education available for employees.  It is also beneficial for employers to develop a multi-year plan for each employee, with the employee taking an active role in developing the plan, ensuring that they are focused on areas needing more understanding, areas of interest or areas of specialization.  The firm-wide budget also benefits from pre-planning the amount of continuing education costs to be incurred in a three-year period.

Offering the Chance to Take Non-Technical Courses

Another thing that employers can do to support employees in earning their CPE credit is to allow employees the opportunity to access non-technical CPE courses that are not technical in nature yet still offer learning opportunities for the employees.  These type of courses include:

  • Business management and organization
  • Computer software and applications
  • Career planning
  • Time management
  • Human resources
  • Communications and marketing

Courses falling into these non-technical areas are still beneficial to the professional by expanding their professional knowledge outside specified accounting areas.  These types of courses help a professional in developing skills for future positions in the accounting industry.  Please note that each state’s board of accountancy determines the number of hours of non-technical coursework allowed as part of a CPE plan.  The links to all states’ boards of accountancy can be found at nasba.org.

Staying Actively Engaged with Employees

Employers can greatly benefit by keeping the lines of communication open with employees.  Regularly scheduled reviews of continuing education plans between the employer and employee ensure that the continuing education plan in place is still of interest and relevance to the employee.  While a multi-year plan is optimal for all, without regular review of the plan, the employee may miss out on receiving training in a new area of interest or skill needed for a client.  As an employee becomes more seasoned, the general areas of training included in a continuing education plan may need to be replaced with industry-specific or skill-specific coursework.  These plan reviews do not have to be conducted by just partners or high-level managers; if the employer has established a mentor program for its employees then plan review can be included as part of the mentorship.  Not only are the employees getting a mentor who has recently worked in a similar position as the employee, but mentors can also assist employees in reviewing their CPE plans to make sure they are still relevant for the employee.

The coronavirus pandemic has made it harder for professionals to get the continuing professional education needed to maintain their professional licenses.  Employers can make the process easier for employees by implementing some best practices into their continuing education administration.