The most promising information coming out of the recent AICPA Fall Council meeting was that interest in accounting by high school and college students is on the rise. This turnaround in accounting as a major, and hopefully the greater number of individuals ultimately choosing it as career, will provide needed accountants for the profession.

The greater interest can probably be attributed to a number of factors, beginning with the burst in the technology bubble, as more students are drawn to what is viewed as a career having long-term stability.

Just as important was the publicity that followed the Enron and WorldCom demises, and the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation. The accounting profession came to the forefront and into national focus, so students got a quick education in the roles that accountants play. It also increased the demand, as compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley generated additional work for accountants working in and assisting public companies.

AICPA's initiatives also directly contributed to the greater numbers. This includes a nationwide program in which members encourage students to consider accounting as a career. The AICPA also funds a Web site, www.startheregoplaces.com , which is getting an incredible number of hits. The site is designed to attract and retain the interest of high school and college students so they will understand the benefits of becoming a CPA.

An underlying analysis of the numbers also provides another benefit: diversity. The number of females and minorities in this potential group of possible new accountants is very high. It is no coincidence that Leslie Murphy, AICPA chair, in her inaugural speech announced a new initiative directed exclusively to young professionals. Called the Young CPA Network, the program will offer tailored resources to this group, including a Web page and a dedicated newsletter. "The Network will help CPAs to better understand the development opportunities available to them within the profession, and give them the tools they need to become our next generation of leaders, inspiring the next cadre of students to join our profession," she explains.

It is wonderful to see the younger generation's excitement in accounting. Although it is because of a number of factors, the continued efforts of CPAs in encouraging accounting as a career and the funding by AICPA should be applauded. They are investments that should really have a long-term payoff.

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