Coco Hou is the CEO of Platinum Professional Training (PPT) and she believes that finance and accounting graduates need the assistance of practical skills in order to make a smooth and successful transition into the workplace.
According to Coco, while universities are providing great foundationary learning, more preparation is required to provide students with the practical skills they must know in order to work in accounting and finance.
“Contrary to popular belief, given the rapidly changing nature of the sector and the impact of digital disruption, what accounting and finance students are taught at university simply isn’t enough to become an accountant. If you want to be able to walk into an accounting job feeling comfortable and qualified, you’re going to have to get some practical training,” Coco said.
“There is nothing more frustrating for an employer than hiring a graduate who looks academically impressive on paper, but turns out to be seriously unqualified to do the job that is asked of them. This is becoming more and more common and it’s not necessarily the fault of the graduates.
“Universities do a good job at teaching the fundamentals however I always tell our students: practical skills are winning skills. University qualifications may get you the job, but practical skills enable you to excel at your job. Employers want graduates who can hit the ground running. We are operating in a vastly different market now and graduates need to be job ready – not just qualified.”
Platinum Accounting Training (PPT) is Australia’s largest private accounting training institution for accounting graduates with offices in most states. PPT was founded by Coco’s family in 2008 after they personally witnessed the challenges that accounting graduates faced in the workplace.
“In the early days, when I was applying for accounting positions as a graduate, I found employers repeatedly wanting ‘practical experience’. As a result, I decided to teach myself those practical accounting skills, and volunteer for various small businesses. I realised that if I wanted to succeed in the sector, I had to commit time to learning the ropes and building up my practical experience,” Coco added.
“I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed by the challenges of working in accounting. However, I quickly realised that with the right education, experience and training, those challenges become a lot easier.”
“After landing a job as an accountant and starting my own firm, we decided to create PPT, a service which would teach people the practical skills for a job in finance and accounting. We founded PPT to fill the gap that graduates and others working in the sector wanting to advance, needed to equip themselves with in order to pursue meaningful and satisfying careers in accounting and finance.”
Thousands of graduates have benefitted from PPT’s skills-based courses, most of whom receive jobs upon completing their course. Two students who have benefited from PPT are Mia Tang and Gaurang Patel.
Melbourne-based Mia Tang is currently pursuing a career in the real estate industry as an accountant. She took an Assistant Accounting course at Platinum to help familiarise herself with the MYOB and Xero software.
“I found Platinum to be a great service provider because the trainers were all very nice and willing to help. The training videos provided are much more practical than the theories that I learned at university,” Mia said.
Gaurang Patel has ambitions of becoming a business consultant. After being knocked back for not having enough practical experience, Patel decided to also undertake additional learning at Platinum.
“Throughout my time with Platinum, I have developed strong accounting skills and communication skills. I learnt how to work under deadlines and how to prioritise tasks. I have learned how to work with accounting software, including Xero, MYOB and Excel,” Gaurang said.
“I would recommend all accounting graduates and recently migrated accountants who can’t secure an accounting position due to lack of local accounting experience to take part in Platinum’s programs.”
According to Coco, PPT’s emphasis on practical skills and job-training has a positive impact on the confidence and mental health of their students.
“The transition from university to the workplace can be tough and stressful. For many, it’s an emotional roller coaster. There’s nothing worse than feeling unqualified and unskilled straight out of university,” Coco added.
“What I’ve found is that the students at the end of their PPT course are far less stressed and worried than students at the start. Once you get at least some sort of practical training, you build up the kind of confidence that employers will really appreciate."