Lawmakers introduce bill to make accounting part of STEM education

Cecilia Nysing

Congress introduced bipartisan legislation Friday to recognize accounting as part of the STEM programs in schools, as part of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula.

Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Indiana, and Haley Stevens, D-Michigan, introduced the Accounting STEM Pursuit Act, which would amend the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program to promote career awareness in accounting as part of a well-rounded STEM educational experience. The bill aims to help establish the accounting profession as a valuable STEM career pathway and encourage diversity in the future of the accounting workforce.

The bill comes at a time when the accounting profession, like many sectors of the economy, is finding itself with a shortage of talent to fill the available jobs. While the problem has been exacerbated since the COVID-19 pandemic in many sectors, the accounting profession has long faced such a shortage. Groups like the American Institute of CPAs, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the Institute of Management Accountants have been working to augment the accounting curriculum in schools, as well as the Uniform CPA Exam and the IMA’s Management Accounting Competency Framework, to include more attention to technology skills like data analytics that are being taught in older STEM programs.

A runner stands near the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg

“As a CPA who worked in a variety of industries, taught accounting at college, and started my own businesses, I understand the importance of finance and accounting skills for our students — regardless of which endeavor they pursue in life,” said Spartz in a statement. “I am happy to join Rep. Stevens in leading this bipartisan legislation.”

This bill adds “activities to promote the development, implementation, and strengthening of programs to teach accounting” to the list of allowable uses of grant funding under the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program with a focus on increasing access to high-quality accounting courses for students through grade 12 who are members of groups that are typically underrepresented in accounting careers.

“As a founding Chair of the House Women in STEM Caucus, there are few issues in Congress that are more important to me than working to promote and advance STEM education pathways for our diverse next generation of leaders and innovators,” Stevens said in a statement. “This bipartisan bill will work to increase access to high-quality accounting education for K-12 students to improve career awareness and workforce diversity in the field. Our financial institutions and their consumers will benefit tremendously from a strengthened pipeline of talented workers of all backgrounds who are ready to meet the needs of our rapidly changing world.”

The legislation received support from the AICPA, the Center for Audit Quality, the National Association of Black Accountants, and the National Academy Foundation.

“The accounting profession has always been a leader in using and developing technology to make informed decisions, solve complex problems and improve the delivery of audit, finance and tax services,” said Susan Coffey, CEO of public accounting at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, in a statement. “As the profession continues to apply advanced technology and technology-enabled techniques, it’s never been a more exciting time to be an accounting professional.”

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