In an interview with Reshma Ravishanker from EducationWorld, Ashish Kalra, Founder and Director of IGP Pvt Ltd. IGP (Institute for Grooming Professionals), a leading coaching academy for CA (chartered accountancy), CS (company secretary) and CMA (certified management accountant) exams spoke about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on these professions.
In the wake of the pandemic, do you see any increase or decrease in terms of the number of aspirants choosing to pursue CA?
As we have seen a drastic shift in all the industries (including the education industry), due to the pandemic, the students pursuing CA and those planning to join CA courses were quite disturbed initially. The students were uncertain about the time when the CA exams would be conducted. Also, those who just qualified Class 12 were not willing to shift to virtual or recorded classes just after their school as they had the habit of studying in face–to–face classes. Due to these reasons and numerous other reasons, there was a drastic fall in the number of admissions in the CA course in FY 2020-21 as compared to FY 2019-20.
There were merely 60% of the admissions in FY 2020 – 21 as compared to the preceding year. Later on, as things normalized, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) also conducted exams smoothly at a large number of centres in December 2020 and January 2021. This gave confidence to the students who had already joined the course that their preparation will not go out in vain amidst the uncertainty caused on account of Covid 19. During this year also, initially, due to the cancellation of Class 12 exams, there was a lot of uncertainty among the students of class 12 who were planning to pursue the CA course. However, with the cases going down, we are seeing a better response and improvement in this line.
Can you tell us about the impact the pandemic has had in terms of job availability and career prospects in the field?
CA profession is directly related to the GDP and economic growth of the country. When the economy grows, businesses flourish which results in the need for more CAs for various tasks such as returns filing, auditing, consultancy, smooth management, etc. Initially, in 2020, the economy dropped a lot due to nationwide lockdown and shut down of various small businesses, etc. However, with the due course of time and the unlock process, the economy is reviving again.
As we also know that GST is applicable on almost all goods and services produced around us and there have been amendments in the GST law time and again, people need CAs to manage all their GST-related work. So, initially in 2020, many people lost their jobs (including CA) but since September 2020, people are back on the track, and so the job prospects for the CAs. You can also see that the Stock Market is at its all-time high presently, which is related to the economic growth and job prospects for CAs. It can also be said that a smart and knowledgeable CA will never be out of work in any circumstances.
Since education has gone completely online for over a year now due to the Covid-19 pandemic, what impact has it had on learning? How can students cope with missing out on in-person classes?
Talking about the CA coaching, the recorded classes (Pen Drive/Google Drive) were in trend for 3-4 years now, especially for CA Final exams. After the pandemic, almost everyone has shifted their classes to Virtual Live and Recorded mode. The success of similar classes depends upon the quality of the classes, features of the classes, a special team to handle technical queries, etc.
At IGP, we provide the best of these services as we started delivering virtual classes along with face–to–face classes in 2015 and the quality of our classes is highly appreciated by students pursuing CA at all levels. The results of our virtual students’ turnout have not been any lesser than the students attending physical classes. Yes, it is true that learning has changed, but modern ways are helpful in various aspects as well. To cope up with missing out on in-person classes, disciplined and self–motivated students can go for recorded classes, while the students who need personal attention should go for live virtual classes because in these classes, they will have to study at a fixed time, can ask queries on the spot and will also get a little sense of competitiveness. Recorded classes help and allow the self–motivated students to attend classes at their own preferred speed, time, etc.
Has online teaching-learning been advantageous or has it posed several challenges for students? Please elaborate.
Online teaching and learning has flourished immensely during the pandemic and has also helped the students in a constructive way. The advantages of online teaching and learning have definitely defeated their disadvantages. The pros of online teaching and learning include safety from Covid – 19 and other communicable diseases, cut back on travel, cost-saving as online classes are less costly than the physical classes, self–paced learning in recorded classes, etc. The cons of online teaching and learning are generally applicable to non – sincere students. They procrastinate in watching the lectures, which ends up in a mess at the last moment. For this, the solution of live virtual classes has been done so that these students can be properly guided. Live virtual classes also help remove the challenge of lack of a competitive environment in recorded classes. Another challenge faced by the students is a delay in query resolution which is taken care of by responding to all the queries because as teachers, it is our duty to teach the correct thing to the student until he understands it completely. However, sometimes, there are disruptions in the streaming of the classes on account of fluctuation in the internet services, etc. which are also been taken care of with time.
How has the pandemic impacted internship opportunities for students?
In the CA Course, the students have to undergo a 3-year mandatory Practical Training after clearing CA Intermediate or just after their admission in CA Intermediate (in case of direct entry students). Work from home has become the new normal in case of Articleship as well. Initially, various firms were not reluctant to appoint articles due to the challenge of guiding them in an impersonal mode but later on, almost everyone shifted to Work from home by giving guidance through Google Meet, Zoom, MS Teams, etc. Various trackers are also used to track the status of work done by the articles. Through the digitalization of accounting, auditing, tax returns filing, etc., it is not difficult to conduct the operations from home. Various softwares such as SAP, Tally, CAATs, etc. help in the smooth flow of auditing and accounting work.
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