At an EY event held last year in Zurich on the future of tax, one executive remarked that just 15 years ago the tax function was “a group of technical experts who knew the law.”
But the tax profession has evolved in the ensuing years, and universities that educate the pipeline of talent now face the challenge of transforming their tax curriculum and training to equip students with the required skills for the job market of today and tomorrow.
The central function of the tax office has evolved from strategy and planning into risk management, says William Byrnes, professor of law and associate dean at Texas A&M University.
Texas A&M University is among the pioneers of change in tax education. In 2013, the State of Texas not only established a new law school at the university but also gave it carte blanche to create a new education model.
A risk management approach to tax means that the new model will by definition be multidisciplinary.
Financial and managerial accounting– and law– will still be important, of course.
But students will also need new “hard” skills involving big data and communications technologies and “soft” skills geared to working in multicultural settings both at home and abroad.
Employers expect entry-level employees to arrive with these skills already developed. Says Byrnes, “You don’t want to have people who are living in the ‘Stone Age’ (pre-2015) trying to work in a 2016-onward world.”
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