1.1 Background of the Study
Education has a significant role in the development of any nation. The National Policy on Education (NPE) defines education as an instrument for national development (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2009). The N.P.E. also states that education enables a society to foster the value, behaviour and lifestyle appropriate for a sustainable development of any nation. Education can be seen as a process of learning that has future benefits in building the capacity of the citizens for a meaningful engagement of the forces that shape socio-economic development (Abdulkadir, 2011). Therefore, education is a medium through which the society transmits skills, attitudes and behaviours to its younger ones, in order to provide a better life for the society and its members. Business education is categorized among vocational education in tertiary institution. Business education is an education for vocation. Osuala (2004) opines that it is a training system that encourages the beneficiary to acquire skills that will make him/her fit into the world of work. Business Education is an educational programme that prepares the individual for the world of work as a teacher, office employee or to be self-employed.
Business Education is an education for and about business or training in business courses necessary to set-up private businesses (Esene, 2012). The objectives of Business Education according to Okoro (2008) are:
• To produce competent graduates to teach Business Education subjects in secondary schools.
• To produce competent graduates for self-employment and self-reliance
• To produce competent graduates for office occupation
• To produce competent graduates for the industries
• To produce competent graduates for the public sector
Business Education is taught both at the College of Education and at the university. Courses in accounting, management, marketing, office technology and management are taught. Business Education serves as a very significant means through which a nation can achieve its ultimate goals in business especially if it is supported with entrepreneurship education and is properly nurtured and articulated to provide initiatives, self-employment, management and marketing skills, and is geared towards risk-taking and problem solving (Hynes 1996). It stretches the acquisition of knowledge relevant to employment and demonstrable job specific skills or competences. Competencies are abilities of power and authority of knowledge, attitudes and facts necessary for accomplishing tasks (Achilike & Okwuanaso, 2001). Competencies, therefore, are the knowledge, skills and behaviours that enable an employee to meet established performance criteria. Ente, Amusa and Eze (2009) view competencies as essential knowledge and skills obtainable in a profession and those which the professionals in the field must possess and be able to demonstrate at optimal level of acquisition and functioning. Quality service or job can only be rendered when one has the knowledge, competencies and attitude required in the profession.
Business Education prepares its graduates for employment in the work-place, typical existing business enterprises as well as the acquisition of knowledge relevant to employment. The Business Education programme basically equips the individual with skills and abilities. The relevance of the programme has to do with its practical acquisition and application of basic skills for real life situations. An important characteristic of the Business Education programme is that its products can function independently as self-employed and employers of labour. It is unfortunate that products of Business Education end up rubbing shoulders with products of other programmes (Abdulkadir, 2011). It has the consequence of decreasing employment in both government and private organizations. The products of Business Education seem to lack the necessary entrepreneurship skills, most especially accounting skills, to set up and maintain their own businesses.
There is hardly any sphere of life where the knowledge of accounting is not required. Indeed, it may not be an exaggeration to say that everyone practices accounting. The implication of the above assertion is that we all use accounting techniques (budgeting, recording of financial transactions and so on) and accounting information in our daily lives. However, it is in the realm of business that accounting appears to be most popular. Frank (2000) opines that recording is the language of business as it is used in the business world to describe the transaction and communicate to interested parties after analysis and interpretation from transaction entered into by all kinds of organisations. Adeosun (2004) states that:
Users of accounting information such as shareholders, employees, labour leaders, internal revenue services, researchers, creditors, auditors and so on, make use of financial statements prepared by company directors. Individuals must plan to use their resources (which are scarce) to meet their endless list of wants. This would call for budgeting and planning. Government at different levels – local, state and federal (especially in a democracy) would have to report on their stewardship to the electorates. This would warrant preparation of financial statements showing if revenue received has been utilized properly.
It has been explained in the preceding paragraph that knowledge and use of accounting are pervasive. Nevertheless, when financial statements are to be presented to a highly varied audience in annual general meetings of public listed shares for subscription in companies, it is expected that accounting information to be presented must meet certain legal standards and conform generally to prescribed principles.
Adetifa, Ajileye and Oluwasanmi (2001) define accounting as the art of recording, classifying and summarizing in a useful manner and in monetary terms, transactions and events which are of financial character and the subsequent interpretation. Also Osuwa (2002) observes that accounting is the process by which data relating to economic activities of an organization are measured and recorded. Okoli (2013) defines accounting as the process of recording, classifying, selecting, measuring, interpreting, summarizing and reporting financial data of an organization to the users for objective assessment and decision making. Accounting is a service activity and its function is to provide quantitative information, primarily financial in nature, about economic entities that is intended to be useful in making economic decisions. It provides quantitative financial information about economic entities to statement users so that they could make informed judgement and better decision (Okoli, 2013). In the same vein, Azih (2013) defines accounting as the process of recording, classifying, summarizing, analysing and interpreting financial transactions and communicating the results thereof to interested users. Accounting education equips the recipients with saleable skills that prepare them for dual jobs. Graduates of the programme can either teach accounting subjects or serve as accounting officers in various public and private parastatals. Azih (2013) further states that the technological change in the storage and retrieval of accounting information in organizations has affected the demands from accounting education graduates which involves adequate knowledge of the skills in storage and provision of information to the interested users in a paperless office. Ugeh (2013) notes that accounting is an art of recording, classifying and summarising monetary transactions or events which are of financial character and interpretation of the results. The different economic systems have the tremendous influence on the accounting process. The evolution of accounting, therefore, is a product of its socio-economic environment. From these definitions, it can be seen that accounting deals with the use of data or facts to produce information necessary for decision making by different users of such information such as mangers, employers and so on. On the other hand, accounting education has been described by Ehiametalor (1990) as a programme of instruction which aims at inculcating in the students the following abilities:
– Management of personal finances
– Making relational economic choices
– Investing wisely both in consumable items and non-immediate consumable item; and
– Reconciling one’s assets and liabilities.
Ehiametalor’s proposition on the use of accounting education tends to reiterate the vocational use of accounting – preparation of graduates for a job employment within a wide range of business career and more especially the management of personal finances and resources. Osuwa (2002) remarks that accounting education is fundamentally a programme that has to do with acquisition, conversion and how to record business transactions. Osuwa also asserts further, that it is a type of education for self-reliance”. Thus the basic knowledge of accounting education will help the students to develop manipulative skills. It will also help to inculcate and develop in the students the attitude of using the acquired skills to solve problems in business and community.
The term competence refers to the minimum skills required of individuals who have participated in a course of programme. The graduate of Business Education (accounting) programme is expected to be knowledgeable in the three domains of learning as explained by Ehiametalor (1990) namely;
– Cognitive: Theories, sort out information, interpretation of data, motivation
– Psychomotor: Applications in the utilization of machines, arrangement of data to a format
– Affective: Communication effect, appreciation of the effort of other people’s work performance, Appreciation of one’s effort in group goal achievement
In the cognitive domain, accounting education graduates who would be required to act as executive officer (accounts) in the civil services and private companies or as teachers at the junior secondary school level must have a good grasp of the theoretical foundation of the subject matter of accounting, theories of evolution of book keeping and accounting, accounting standards, principles of finance and quantitativeness of the subject matter of accounts, theories of evolution of book keeping and accounting, accounting standards, principles of finance and quantitative techniques.
Furthermore, there is, the ‘mental’ cognitive exercise of sorting out information into meaningful things which is a necessary competence required for sorting transactions into different classes of accounts such as personal, impersonal, real, nominal and expenses. It is in the cognitive domain that competencies such as interpretation of data with the use of equations, ratios, percentages and so on are required. In the psychomotor domain, accounting education graduates must develop the competence of using their hands and brain to perform in the teaching and clerical functions. Competencies such as ability to manipulate calculators, franking machines, computers, etc. are required.
Okpan (2006) identifies some accounting skills required by Business Education graduates such as ability to keep accurate financial records, ability to understand ways of recording business transactions, ability to be acquainted with new trends as regards accounting role in the business world, ability to handle the various books of accounts and ability to interpret financial reports. In the same vein, Ekwue and Udoye (2008) identify the following accounting skills relevant to Business Education graduates:
– Ability to keep and control stocks
– Ability to avoid unplanned expenditure
– Ability to determine profit of a particular period
– Ability to find out sources of capital to start business
– Ability to improve as well as develop basic skills in arithmetic
– Ability to understand ways of recording business transactions
– Ability to keep accurate financial records
– Ability to be acquainted with new trends as regards accounting role in the business world.
– Ability to determine where and when to invest
– Ability to be acquainted with new trends in relation to accounting concepts and convention
– Ability to undertake simple audit
– Ability to detect fraud
– Ability to handle various books of accounts
– Knowledge of Federal Government Tax Laws
– Ability to use bonus to increase productivity
– Ability to prepare sales, cash and production budget
– Ability to interpret simple financial statements
– Knowledge of simple business law
– Awareness of existence and use of professionals like bankers, accountants, lawyers, insurance agents and advertising agents
– Ability to keep and control inventory.
In the same vein, Azih (2010) identifies the following accounting competencies expected of Business Education graduates. These are preparation of tax codes, selecting settings of a department, setting up of a currency, designing of nominal records, preparation of control accounts, creating, amending and deleting nominal records, creating of bank, cash and credit accounts, preparation of profit and loss account, structure for coding customer and supply records, handling of opening balances, preparation of check data, backups, compress data files, rebuild data files, month end financial reports and budget report, correction of errors made while posting transactions and preparation of a bank reconciliation statement. The above competencies will enable university Business Education graduates to function effectively in the world of work as successful entrepreneurs.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
University Business Education graduates by their education and training ought to possess the relevant competencies in accounting; competencies that will enable them establish and run their own businesses successfully. For a Business Education graduate to secure, maintain and sustain a job, the graduate needs more than manipulative skills. Furthermore, Okwuanaso (2004) indicates that the expectations for which the National Policy on Education introduced business Education in the Nigerian school system have not been fully met. Unfortunately, Akume’s (2006) research findings revealed that many Business Education graduates that set their businesses come out with high rate of failure. He further states that, within a year, only about 50% of such businesses survive; in two years, about 18% of them survive while in three years, many of the businesses have liquidated. This uncertainty of success among Business Education graduates in running their businesses is a major concern to prospective entrepreneurs. There are doubts about the accounting competencies possessed by Business Education graduates. The problem of the study therefore, is to what extent do Business Education graduates possess relevant competencies in accounting?
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to assess accounting competencies possessed by university postgraduate Business Education students to handle entrepreneurship business challenges in Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to assess entrepreneurial competencies possessed by university Business Education graduates in accounting.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research question was raised to guide the study:
To what extent do Business Education graduates possess relevant competencies in accounting?
The following hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance.
1. There is no significant difference between male and female university Business Education graduates in the mean ratings of their possessed competencies in accounting.
2. There is no significant difference between south east and south west universities Business Education graduates in the mean ratings of their possessed competencies in accounting.
3. There is no significant difference between B.Sc. and M.Ed university Business Education graduates in the mean ratings of their possessed competencies in accounting.
4. There is no significant difference between federal and state universities Business Education graduates in the mean ratings of their possessed competencies in accounting.
5. There is no significant difference between full-time and part-time university Business Education graduates in the mean ratings of their possessed competencies in accounting.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study is on the assessment of accounting competencies possessed by postgraduate university business education students to handle entrepreneurship business challenges in Nigeria.
1.8 Limitations of the study
The demanding schedule of respondents at work made it very difficult getting the respondents to participate in the survey. As a result, retrieving copies of questionnaire in timely fashion was very challenging. Also, the researcher is a student and therefore has limited time as well as resources in covering extensive literature available in conducting this research. Information provided by the researcher may not hold true for all businesses or organizations but is restricted to the selected organization used as a study in this research especially in the locality where this study is being conducted. Finally, the researcher is restricted only to the evidence provided by the participants in the research and therefore cannot determine the reliability and accuracy of the information provided.
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.