FACTORS INFLUENCING CAREER CHOICE IN FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING AMONG NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Background of the Study
The primary objective of accounting programmes is to produce a sufficient number of graduates who have considerable accounting knowledge, with the strong communication and analytical capabilities demanded by firms. So in order to meet the demands of firms, accounting programs must graduate the best and brightest students with high aptitudes. But this is affected by different factors Uyar, and Kuzey, (2011). In recent years, there is a dramatic decline in both the number and the quality of students who are choosing accounting as a profession. Because students are interested in what the society perceived to be more creative, rewarding and people oriented career, as a result, the profession could not get the brightest and best students. Wells, (2005) When we are looking at Accounting as a discipline the way in which students as well as the public view accounting is an image that has persisted over time and is reinforced by the media Uyar, and Kuzey, (2011). For example, high school teachers in both US and New Zealand have a low opinion of accounting as a career opportunity relative to law, medicine and engineering as a consequence, students, who possess the skills and abilities sought by the profession, are being directed to other career opportunities.
A career in accounting can be the most challenging of experience for a fresh graduate. This is because of the multifaceted aspects of accounting. Although, accounting is taught in the university, there are many ways in which it can be practiced. An accountant may even choose to be selfemployed. Arthur, Hall and Lawrence (1989) as cited in Arthur, Khapova and Wilderom (2005) stated that a career is the unfolding sequence of a person’s work experiences over a period of time. A career is not static but unfolds over a period of time. In a similar vein, the Business Dictionary (2014) defines a career as the progress and actions taken by a person throughout a lifetime, especially those related to that person’s occupations. It is made up of the jobs held, titles earned and work accomplished over a long period of time rather than just referring to one position. Borchert (2002) noted that career choice involves deciding on what aspect of a taught discipline to focus on. It is determined by how students perceive their environment, personality and opportunity. This implies that career choice decisions are determined by a number of internal and external pressures. For example, accounting is a discipline that is taught in schools. At the end of a four-year accounting course in the University, a student of accounting makes a decision to pursue a certain aspect of the discipline. In determining the factors influencing career choice of individuals, personal, psychological and sociological factors have been examined in the literature. Personal factors are crucial because individuals have particular ways of doing things and possess distinct features in reasoning and interest. In other words, the interest of two accounting students is not likely to be the same given the same options available to them. Psychological factors include interest, prestige, personality, values, norms, self-esteem, are products of the mental functions and mindset of the accounting student. Sociological factors are influence from peer group, role models, mentors, social networks, socio-economic status of parents and family. According to James (no date), failure to understand the factors that makes students major in accounting is detrimental to the accounting profession. Also, when accounting students show preference for one career path over another, and the difference is very clear, the development of the profession can be impaired. In response to the need for studies that examine the factors influencing the career choice of accounting students, Chen, Greene, and Crick,(2005) have studied some of the factors in more developed countries. In Nigeria, Umoren, Oyerinde and Nwobu (2011) have researched on gender and enrolment of undergraduate accounting students, the perceptions of the students about the accounting discipline.
Today, the development of a career continues to be a priority and one that must be addressed to effectively meet the career development needs of students. As stated by Herr and Cramer (1996), “Career development proceeds—smoothly, jaggedly, positively, negatively whether or not career guidance or career education exists”. It makes sense then that school guidance program activities be implemented to positively impact student career development. Counselors play a key role in developing and implementing career activities to facilitate student career development. As a result, making career development a priority and activities to facilitate career development an integral part of the guidance program should be the goal. Gutek and Larwood (1987) defined a career as “a series of related jobs within an organization or different jobs within various companies”. Career development refers to the many jobs a person holds, and it should represent progress, whether through increased recognition or salary, or the respect one receives from colleagues. The more a person’s career progresses in this manner, the more he or she will be judged successful (Gutekand Larwood, 1987). Career aspirations represent an individual’s orientation towards a desired career goal under ideal conditions. More simply stated, career aspirations “provide information about an individual’s interests and hopes, unfettered by reality” (Hellenga, Aber, and Rhodes, 2002, Rojewski, 1996). Adolescence would be an ideal time to study the career development of young women, as many changes occur during this time that strongly influences the formation of career aspirations and preferences (Watson et al., 2002).
Statement of the Problem
Globalization and internationalization have broadened the economic landscape into impropriety, complexity and volatility. To keep abreast with the current development, the world seriously needs more experts for the resolution, knowledge and innovation. Thus, accountants who are integral to business and economies are seen to be the best profession able to face these new challenges. This scenario therefore raises tremendous demand for accountants. However, the existing number of qualified accountants is far behind the required number (Zakaria, Muhammad and Zulkifli, 2012). The Government is committed to increasing the role of private investment in the economy and in relation to this the demand for the best and brightest accountant is also increasing. However, the number of professional accountants is rather low in relation to the size of the economy. Due to shortage of professional accountants’ there are positions in the private and public sectors that are filled by persons with lower qualifications (World Bank and IMF, 2007). In addition the absence of accountants is a part of the problem for the delay of the establishment of the capital market (MeronTekleberhan, 2012). Considering the above, the researcher is interested to find out how this problem of shortage in the number of practicing accountants can be improved upon and to examine those perceived factors that affects, encourage and influence the choice of this noble profession at the undergraduate level. Hence, the rationale for the study.
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