A collaborative initiative between The University of the West Indies(UWI) Mona and the public and private sectors is offering accounting students at the Mona School of Business& Management (MSBM) the opportunity to graduate with a skill and experience level a cut above the rest.
This collaboration has resulted in the launch of the The UWI Accounting Co-op Programme which took place on Tuesday 5 November, 2013. The programme responds to the demand for ‘experienced’ graduates by aligning students with partner companies to gain invaluable work experience as well as the opportunity to earn as they study. The programme, which was piloted earlier this year by the Ernst and Young office in Jamaica, represents a paradigm shift as the UWI reinforces its commitment to producing work ready graduates by creating platforms for “on the job training”. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Tuesday 5 November, 2013 between the UWI and Ernst & Young at the launch of the programme. In addition to Ernst and Young, both Price Waterhouse Coppers (PWC), and Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) have expressed an interest in participating in the programme within the coming months and it is expected that a total of between 40 and 50 UWI students will receive paid placements through the UWI Accounting Co-Op Programme commencing in January 2014. Participating students will have the benefit of up to 12 months of work experience by the time they complete their undergraduate degrees.
Speaking at the launch event, Professor Archibald McDonald, Principal and Pro-Vice Chancellor of The UWI, Mona emphasized the importance of ensuring a balance between ‘qualifications’ and competency based training; “This amalgamation of theory and practice into the structure of MSBM programmes has had a highly beneficial impact on the quality of The UWI’s degree programmes, and the knowledge and professional confidence of our graduating students.”
Country Managing Partner at Ernst & Young Jamaica , Allison Peart, who is one of the chief architects of the programme noted, “I am of the view that The UWI is responding to changes in the work environment to produce work ready graduates and is willing to work with the private sector to meet the needs of employers for experienced employees” she continued “It provides a win-win for all involved,” she explained, “the university will produce students with work experience, students get money while in school plus on the job experience, while employers get staff during the busy audit, accounting & tax period from January to April when they need the help most.”
Professor Densil Williams, Executive Director at MSBM noted “This is a special day for the University, as we continue to recognize and implement innovative and globally relevant ways to prepare students for tomorrow.”
Admission to the Co-Op initiative is open to full time students enrolled in MSBM’s Accounting programme who have a minimum 3.0 GPA and have completed the requisite Level 1 courses. Students will fulfill their work component during the regular school semester and continue their academic course of study during the summer. Students are then graded by their employers and monitored by The UWI.
Representatives from the public and private sector attended the launch to show their support and endorse the programme, these included representatives from TAJ, Ernst & Young and PWC, Dr. Franklin Johnston Senior Advisor to the Minister of Education who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Education, Mr. Dennis Chung - President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica (ICAJ). Mrs Elaine Robinson, Campus Bursar and Ms Minna Israel Board Chaiman MSBM were recognized for the key role they played in the development and facilitation of the programme as well as Mr. Michael Williams -Head, Accounting and Finance Unit MSBM, who will oversee the implementation of the programme.