“Don’t tell me what you know, show me what you can do” Bridging the gap between education and professional practice: A Canadian perspective from the Certified General Accountants Association
Since its major redesign of the CGA Program Professional Studies of 1986, the Certified General
Accountants Association of Canada (CGA-Canada) has applied the principles of competencybased
education to its entire program of qualification in an integrated approach through
education, examination, and experience.
In 2004, CGA-Canada presented a paper at the Association for Business and Economics
Research (ABER) Conference outlining the process used for conducting a practice analysis
survey, with the purpose of updating and prioritizing the core competencies of the program of
professional studies and informing the professional development program.
This paper outlines the approach taken by CGA-Canada to ensure close, systematic linkage of
competencies between the curriculum, examination, and practical experience requirements of its
online professional program, with the goal of ensuring that all newly certified CGAs have
demonstrated the requisite level of proficiency in the broad range of competencies. It describes
the process developed to update and revise the program based on the results of its 2002-03
This paper also provides a Canadian example of how the links between what an accountant
learns in a professional program can closely replicate what an accountant is called on to
demonstrate in practice. This includes ethical and professional judgment, leadership, and other
enabling skills required of all professionals.