23 January 2023

Collaboration – the key to high-quality sustainability education framework for accountants Interview with PAEE

Professional Accountancy Education Europe (PAEE), a collaboration between European accountancy bodies, strives to provide a high-quality education framework at an international level. As the importance of sustainability across the profession is rising, PAEE members lead multiple initiatives on sustainability education. In this interview PAEE explains what is vital to further develop sustainability awareness among accountancy and auditing professionals.

What is the PAEE and its objective?

Professional Accountancy Education Europe (the PAEE) is a collaboration of leading European professional accountancy bodies that aims to bring its members’ individual professional qualifications closer. We develop high-quality educational benchmarks aligned with international standards (e.g.: the International Education Standards and the education requirements set in the European Audit Directive). These benchmarks indicate PAEE members’ common skillset and knowledge level while considering national requirements. They also demonstrate equivalency in qualification and facilitate international mobility of professional accountants and auditors.

Is there a trend for sustainability education in Europe?

The importance of sustainability information in business valuation has been rising. Professional accountants must meet today’s needs and integrate sustainability matters into their skills and competencies. PAEE members lead many initiative on sustainability education, but we note very little standardisation. While the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is being transposed into national law, some professional bodies are holding off until more details have been released and others are finalising content, developing standalone additional programmes or embedding sustainability in their existing professional qualification.

How do you plan to develop education in this area?

As the sustainability reporting standards are released, we aim to incorporate sustainability knowledge and skills into the current educational benchmarks. This will ensure our member bodies can fully support their students and existing members to develop and hone their skills for the future – through the professional educational programmes or Continued Professional Development. We will receive guidance from members who are already working to integrate sustainability in their professional qualifications or have developed individual programmes that meet national requirements.

What should be done to reach consistency in Europe?

We recommend developing common guidelines to help those responsible for accountancy and audit professionals’ education in Europe to understand the CSRD’s requirements. Larger professional bodies should be supporting smaller bodies that don’t have resources to take this forward. Knowledge sharing and collaboration between professional bodies, but also representative organisations, such as PAEE and Accountancy Europe, will be key to ensure all European professional bodies can take this key topic forward consistently and efficiently.

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