Training & Careers

A no brainer: expanding self education tax deductions

THE Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) is hopeful the Federal Government will pull the trigger on last year’s Federal Budget proposal to proceed with expanding self-education deductions.

“Our tax system inhibits rather than incentivises reskilling and retraining. Education expenses that do not have a sufficient connection to an individual’s current employment are currently not deductible,” IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conwaysaid.

“The disruption caused by globalisation, technology, intergenerational forces, the changing nature of work and the labour market are driving the need for continued upgrading of skills throughout life.

“Upskilling and further education is an investment in human capital that adds to the economy’s productive capacity and can play a key part of our post COVID recovery.

“Those who have the financial capacity to invest in themselves should be encouraged to do so particularly in a post-pandemic environment where jobs have been displaced and overseas immigration of skilled labour has been curtailed.

“The government is proceeding with its proposal to exempt employers from fringe benefits tax if they provide retraining and reskilling benefits to redundant, or soon-to-be-redundant, employees where the benefit may not relate to their current employment," Mr Conway said.

“To provide equity with individuals who have employer support for reskilling or retraining, it is important to extend a similar tax concession to individuals who undertake further education at their own cost.

“As part of the proposal to extend the self-education tax deduction, the IPA supports the inclusion of appropriate integrity provisions to ensure taxpayers don’t take advantage of the tax system by engaging in lifestyle pursuits at the taxpayers’ expense.

“A shared risk approach where the taxpayer bears some of the cost of education, particularly in cases where the retraining does not result in a change or advancement of career, is warranted,” Mr Conway said.


About the Institute of Public Accountants

The IPA, formed in 1923, is one of Australia’s three legally recognised professional accounting bodies. With the acquisition of the Institute of Financial Accountants in the UK, the IPA Group was formed, with more than 40,000 members and students in over 80 countries. The IPA Group is the largest SME focused accountancy organisation in the world.



WhyCubed formula adds up for business growth

By Leon Gettler >>

BILL MCLELLAN is in the business of building better teams and management systems through a methodology assessing strengths and weaknesses and developing emotional intelligence

His business, WhyCubed, rolls the same methodology that has seen the Western Bulldogs win the AFL premiership into businesses.

“It invigorates businesses by injecting a dimension that normally doesn’t exist – and that is, rather than doing a one or two day immersion session with people, you do it over the course of an hour or so a week,” Mr McLellan told Talking Business.

“The beauty of that, in this current environment, is that’s what most leaders and people trying to manage disparate teams are trying to do, so it’s very timely.” 

The methodology is underpinned by behavioural analytics of Harrison Assessments which, in 20 minutes, seeks to assess 175 traits assessing how people like to work, their likes and dislikes. It also seeks to build levels of emotional intelligence or EQ and examines how people respond under pressure.

“Based on that appetite, you are able to work out what a person is likely to be good at,” he said


It also identifies traits and patterns that people are not that good at so they can work out how to attend to it, by getting help or modifying their behaviour.

This helps identify limitations and develops strategic acumen and communication skills.

Mr McLellan said this is now used by businesses globally to develop their talent management systems.

“Most people have accounting systems but how many people actually keep tabs on how their people are progressing from an emotional or EQ standpoint,” he said.

 “You get almost an x-ray report on how people show up. Once you know that, you can then start to coach, augment and facilitate a higher way of being as an individual.

‘It is also a way of building teams,” he said.

“You can super-impose the way individuals show up together. You could for example look at an executive team or a leadership and say: ‘Guys in terms of your strategic paradox, you are all risk takers and none of you are analysing the pitfalls. You are inherently going to take on too much risk. How can we change that? Do we bring in a risk advisor whenever we have a board meeting?’

“The reverse is true too. If the entire team is pre-dispositioned to analysing pitfalls ad nauseam, they might never be able to make a decision and take on new initiatives and the business will start to atrophy.

“You can almost start to do a due diligence on a team. It’s really powerful.”

Mr McLellan said individuals in teams needed to be aware of what areas needed improvement, where the limitations are and what is needed to fix it.

He said it was no different to a football team where it was decided to bring in a kicking coach to teach them the right techniques.

Using analytics is the way to create change and build better leadership teams, he said. 



Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at



Engineers top the 2020 Employer Satisfaction Survey, again

AUSTRALIAN bosses have named engineering graduates as the best for the second year running.

The Australian Government's Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) Employer Satisfaction Survey found employers' overall satisfaction level with engineering graduates was at 90.7 percent.

The survey, funded by the Federal Government, looked at the quality of education provided at Australian institutions by asking the employers of new graduates about the generic skills, technical skills and work readiness of the graduate.

Engineers Australia CEO Dr Bronwyn Evans said the excellent result reflected the emphasis institutions put on preparing students for their transition from university to work, and its close links with industry. 

“Increasingly, the 35 university members of the Australian Council of Deans (ACED)  have adopted project-based learning and increased attention to students' collaboration and communication skills. Engineering faculties and schools also have industry advisory committees that assist in ensuring that the programs are delivering to industry's current and prospective expectations,” Dr Evans said.

Professor Ian Burnett, president of ACED and executive dean of Engineering and IT at the University of Technology Sydney, said it was pleasing to see Engineering and Related Technologies at the top of the ratings once again.

“This excellent outcome is a tribute to the graduates and their teachers and rewards the level of industry engagement and the development of authentic technical and professional skills within our engineering degrees," Prof. Burnett said. 

"Many of the projects undertaken by students are linked to industry.  Students are required to gain industry experience and reflect on this using the graduate competency framework of the professional accreditation process operated by Engineers Australia, with whom ACED works closely,”.

The report follows on from the Graduate Outcomes Survey conducted last year, which found 84.4 percent of last year's engineering graduates found full-time employment, 12percent higher than for all graduates of undergraduate programs, and with median remuneration highest of all fields after medicine and dentistry, with women engineers earning slightly more than their male peers.

“An engineering degree is a platform for lifelong learning. Engineers possess complex problem-solving skills that are useful in a range of business contexts, not just technology, making them desirable and valuable employees,” Dr Evans said.


AIIA Skills Hub launch boosts Australia’s ICT industry

THE Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has launched the AIIA Skills Hub to create a digital skills platform that connects ICT training needs of industry and employees with vocational education and training (VET), tertiary and industry digital courses.

According to AIIA research, CEO Ron Gauci said, Australia has long had a digital skills gap and the AIIA Skills Hub seeks to fill that gap by mapping employee skills to career pathways and relevant training courses “as well as being the hub for digital badging for micro credentialing courses and repository for digital badges and accreditation”.

The AIIA Skills Hub has been built to support two AIIA industry and QUT co-designed micro-credentialing courses on cyber security and innovation in IT, but will also provide a central place where any VET or tertiary courses can be plugged in to the Hub, where employees can map their skills gap and identify appropriate courses to meet their future career needs.

The AIIA Skills Hub has launched with initial courses from QUT, CQU, QLD TAFE, and Microsoft.

“These courses will be built out with our other educational institutional members as a priority that will be mapped against the global Skills Frameworks for the Information Age (SFIA), an industry skills framework used by major Australian digital employers,” Mr Gauci said. 

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator Michaelia Cash, said digital skills are in high demand across the country and will form an essential part of Australia’s future economy. 

“The Morrison Government is committed to upskilling and reskilling Australians, as we come out of COVID-19, with a record investment of almost $7 billion in vocational education and training this year,” Ms Cash said.  

“The launch of the AIIA Skills Hub is a great example of industry partnering with quality training providers to grow Australia’s ICT skills capabilities and the skills necessary for a modern digital economy,” the Minister said.

AIIA CEO, Ron Gauci, said, “We’re proud to provide further opportunities for AIIA members to develop their skills and continue to be highly valued employees across industries. Working with QUT and the SkillsLogiQ platform, the AIIA has been able to deliver a great platform for our members that will provide additional capability to grow skills and ensure Australia’s ICT workers will continue to be world class.

“Through this initiative, the AIIA is encouraging the growth of strong domestic skills and innovation ecosystem to support a globally competitive economy while the step change to digital transformation occurs,” Mr Gauci said.

“In a post-COVID economy, we know that strong skills in the ICT sector will continue to be highly sought after by employers.

“We’ve seen during the COVID pandemic the adoption of digital services expand at a rate that was expected to take many years. These are changes that will be permanent and will shape the Australian economy for years to come,” Mr Gauci said.

Individuals will be able to create a Skills Passport to map and manage their skills for career development. Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Queensland TAFE and NSW TAFE will provide high quality short courses.

Industry experts including Microsoft, LinkedIn and GITHub will provide free ICT specialist training. In turn, this program will help educators to provide employer relevant programs for Australian ICT students, Mr Gauci said.

The Skills Hub has been created based on the SkillsLogiQ platform. The program will help individuals plan skills development and career pathways and provide a ‘learning academy’ to support ongoing career development. Australia’s leading universities and TAFEs will be able to join the program and offer their short courses to AIIA members around Australia. 

The AIIA is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at fuelling Australia’s future social and economic prosperity through technology innovation. 


Skills Hub video overview:

How members will access their skills passport:


Advisory Board Centre launches AsiaPac scholarships to upscale businesses, support recovery

THE Advisory Board Centre has announced a $150,000 investment into 100 business leaders across Asia Pacific to provide vital access to knowledge and networks to support business growth and economic recovery.

The Advisory Board Centre's Scaling Business Scholarship has been launched at a time when the OECD’s Interim Economic Outlook has found that building confidence will be crucial to ensure that economies recover and adapt.

This investment in scaling businesses will drive economic impact and prosperity by equipping leaders to thrive in constantly changing and competitive business environments, according to Advisory Board Centre founder and CEO, Louise Broekman. 

She said the program was designed to prepare business owners and leaders to more effectively achieve their strategic priorities through smart, scalable governance and advisory solutions. 

Ms Broekman said scaling businesses played a crucial role in driving economic growth – both locally and internationally. 

“The global pandemic has been incredibly challenging but it has also highlighted the strength of the entrepreneurial spirit and the power of critical thinking and decisive decision making,” Ms Broekman said. 

“The Scaling Business Scholarship will provide business owners and leaders, who provide valuable products, services and employment, with the confidence to thrive in uncertainty and volatility by enabling critical thinking, access to practical advice and robust scalable governance frameworks that support both quality and speed.

“As governments across Asia-Pacific continue to invest in training and upskilling workers, we recognise the significance of equipping business owners and leaders with the knowledge they need to adapt, recover and drive growth.”  

The program is a wholly-funded initiative of the Advisory Board Centre which has been designed based on feedback gathered from the global advisory community as they supported businesses to navigate the effects of the global pandemic.

According to Ms Broekman, after the initial triage period of supporting business owners to navigate the immediate effects, advisors were reporting an increase in the number of business owners seeking support to explore options around repositioning their business and executing on strategic priorities.

“This Scholarship investment comes at a time when entrepreneurial organisations with high growth aspirations are poised to help drive economic growth and recovery," Ms Broekman said. "The ambition and drive is there -- we want to see more organisations achieving their ambitions and are providing practical support, increased knowledge and capability to help them on their journey.”

The Scaling Business Scholarship Program is now open for expressions of interest from business owners and leaders. The wider business community can also nominate a business leader for participation.

The program is targeting participation from business owners in key business hubs across the Asia Pacific region including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The Scaling Business Scholarship, valued at $1500 per participant, includes:

  • Enrolment in the Best Practice in Advisor Engagement eLearning Program;
  • Personalised program support;
  • Mentoring session with a global business leader to support action planning;
  • Comprehensive business diagnostics to help define key priorities for the future;
  • Access to a global network of influential and well-connected peers and advisors through the world-leading Advisor Concierge.

Applications are now open for the Round 1 commencement in late January, 2021

Ms Broekman said business owners and leaders with high growth plans are being encouraged to register their interest at tyhe website:


About the Advisory Board Centre

Representing independent professional members across 10 countries, the Advisory Board Centre recently released the world-first ABF101 Advisory Board Best Practice Framework, a principles-led approach to support ethical, impact focused engagements at a board level.  In 2004, Louise Broekman established an advisory board for her own business which provided her with first-hand experience in how a well-run advisory board can positively impact CEOs. Since 2012, she has served as chair for commercial advisory boards and led the international research and development programs for the Advisory Board Centre Global Research Council.  Ms Broekman is an in-demand speaker and is regularly called upon as the leading voice for Advisory Boards in the Asia-Pacific region.



Women accountants call for greater workplace support: study

WOMEN accountants are calling for greater workplace support, and a better culture to improve their mental health and engagement at work.

A new study by Monash Business School researchers, Carly Moulang and Alessandro Ghio from the Department of Accounting, found women’s presence in senior leadership remained low and accounting firms were facing difficulties in retaining them.

The research team set out to uncover why women dropped out in the middle of their career in professional service firms. A report by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency into gender equity found that despite women making up 48 percent of employees in the finance and insurance sectors, just 37 percent of them hold full-time management positions. 

Undertaking a survey of 203 women and conducting 31 in-depth interviews, researchers looked at supporting practices for women certified accountants from across Australia – including a broad cross-section of women from diverse backgrounds, demographics, ages and seniority in both urban and rural areas.

Associate Professor Moulang said survey respondents wanted to see more women in senior positions to inspire others to follow suit, and have male partners advocate for them and model greater workplace flexibility.

“Leadership support is key in order to advocate workplace change. There was a real call for more part-time positions with more leadership roles available to be done part-time. The ability to share roles is also on their wish list,” Associate Professor Moulang said.

Associate Professor Moulang said many women experienced work-life balance struggles despite the policies being in place for them to take time off work – in reality, they are unable to take the time when they need it.

“The crazy thing is that in many workplaces, while women may have plenty of time accrued, it’s not possible for them to take breaks until the project is finished. Doing so is seen as a ‘career suicide’ move. A consequence of this is that many women professionals then experience burnout,” Associate Professor Moulang said.

“One respondent spoke of the wellness days on offer at her workplace, but they were only available once the work was completed. This was often too late as burnout was already there. In many instances, women commented that burnout is ‘expected’ in their workplace, rather than something their workplaces try to avoid.

“The consequences of this approach have been devastating for many women, and have resulted in both psychological and physical repercussions, including hospitalisations."

Another woman told researchers: “When I first went back to work after my child, I was in a Big4, and that’s why I left. It’s because it didn’t matter if it was my day off or not, if it was month-end then I’d be expected to turn work around and work on that day.”

Dr Ghio said surprisingly, many women revealed they had to moderate their own behaviours, particularly in situations where they were the only woman in a meeting or on a committee. 

“Women in professional firms feel like they have to behave in certain ways to maintain their career. Part-time work and job sharing, even leaving early to pick up the kids from school, is still seen to be frowned upon in many workplaces and in terms of limiting women’s potential for advancement,” Dr Ghio said.

“Many of the women we spoke to are considering not just leaving the organisation but the accounting profession altogether.”

Researchers said their findings have relevant implications for the accounting industry, especially in the re-examination of practices that aim to support women in the workplace. This could also open the doors to improving psychological resources and wider acceptance of flexible working arrangements so women can better balance work and family duties.

“The identification of potential sources of support to break the glass ceiling for women can lead organisations to incorporate the challenges of the current fast-changing economy and society, and improve outcomes for women, allowing them to flourish at work,” Associate Professor Moulang said.

To hear more about this research, Monash Business School is holding a Masterclass titled ‘How do we integrate mental health, wellbeing and performance within professional service firms?’ For more information, click here.


UNSW redesigns commerce degrees to produce post-COVID work-ready graduates

UNIVERSITY of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney’s redesigned Bachelor of Commerce degree courses have been redeveloped 'from the ground up' in response to pre- and post-COVID challenges facing businesses now and in the future.

Aspiring graduates will require a more diverse range of skills outside of those taught in traditional business degrees, said Mark Uncles, deputy dean for education and professor of marketing at UNSW Business School.

“While pre-pandemic understanding of areas such as accounting and financial literacy, economic and marketing principles, business communications and teamwork all remain important for organisations, additional themes have emerged in recent times,” Professor Uncles said.

“These include learning how to survive – and thrive – in the digital economy. It is clear we need to give more emphasis to digital literacy, business analytics, organisational agility, workforce flexibility, innovation and entrepreneurialism. 

“This holds true because of the current pandemic, but also because of the other big issues we face as a nation, such as climate change, limited water resources, changing energy demands, urban growth and renewal, and population ageing. There are business challenges – and opportunities – in all these areas,” he said.

To equip graduates with a sharper skillset, UNSW Business School engaged a wide range of employers as well as its Business Advisory Council members. The council includes board directors and c-suite executives from Australia’s top listed companies, regulators and public sector organisations who assist UNSW to better understand their business and organisational requirements.


EY’s Oceania Campus recruitment lead, Sarah Perrens, served as the industry representative on the Academic Program Review panel redesigning UNSW’s Bachelor of Commerce.

As well as the skills EY would expect to see in its graduates – such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving – Ms Perrens said the firm now assesses graduates for a range of other skills and competencies.

These include adaptability, being a virtual collaborator, drive and resilience, learning agility, and being technology focused -- that is, the ability to keep abreast of new technologies and how they can be practically applied.

“We are seeing an increasing demand for future skills in data and analytics, and staying abreast of new technologies such as automation, robotics and AI. Creativity, problem-solving, adaptability and resilience will be paramount in the future,” Ms Perrens said.

Prof. Uncles underscored the importance of producing graduates with a current and focused work-ready skillset.

“UNSW’s Bachelor of Commerce has always done well in attracting students with first-rate maths and literacy abilities with a good technical grounding, and then building on that to develop their analytical and critical skills within a particular discipline," Prof. Uncles said.

He said employers were looking for graduates with analytical and critical thinking skills who could work with data and apply their insights to address particular business or societal problems. Areas of application are as diverse as auditing and fintech, and consulting and business analytics.


Prof. Uncles said employers were also looking for communication skills that extended beyond simple oral and written presentation to the visual presentation of data using platforms like Tableau and PowerBI, and the ability to draw out insights for decision-making.

Other valuable skills incorporated into UNSW’s Bachelor of Commerce include teamwork and collaboration to address practical business problems, well-developed levels of cultural competence, business ethics and leadership in terms of influence.

“All our students will be engaged in work-integrated learning and have access to our unique Career Accelerator services, including options for career development, internships, mentoring, and practicums. They will curate these activities – and their attainment of skills – into personal portfolios,” Prof. Uncles said.

“We are embedding all of these skills and competencies, and practical employability features, into the curriculum – they aren’t optional extras, they are built into the fabric of the degree.”


Employers and UNSW’s Business Advisory Council also highlighted the importance of cross-functional and cross-disciplinary thinking. The Bachelor of Commerce first year courses now come together as a fully integrated offering.

“If you think about what goes on inside an organisation, there are interrelationships between all the functions,” Prof. Uncles said. “Accounting and finance principles naturally fit together, while international business and marketing often go together, so too do governance, regulation and ethics.

“In the broader business ecosystem, at a macro level, opportunities and problems don’t present themselves in neat packages, so it’s important to apply a business mindset where connections and interdependencies are understood.

“We carry this through to double degree programs where the Bachelor of Commerce is offered in combination with other degrees,” Prof. Uncles said.

A large number of students, for example, were undertaking a Commerce degree with Engineering, Prof. Uncles said. He explained how this approach might add cross-functional value within an organisation.

“Say there was a problem around water resources in a region of Australia," Prof. Uncles said. "You can think about that from an engineering perspective, but also think about the business opportunities presented by water management.

“That’s where value is created, or if you do it badly, where value is lost – and that’s the kind of connected thinking we are developing in our students.”

The first undergraduate intake will be for term one, 2021.

More details are on the UNSW Business School website.



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