In recent years, the need to develop professional competence in internal auditing has increasingly come under the spotlight. The main reasons for this are a growing need for competent internal auditors who can render value-adding services to a variety of stakeholders, and the need for an effective internal audit function, where internal audit competence and professionalism are regarded as determinants of internal audit effectiveness. Prior research has focused on internal audit education at a tertiary level, so research on workplace learning for internal audit auditors is limited. The IIA Research Foundation undertook a series of Common Body of Knowledge studies, and developed an internal audit competency framework indicating competency requirements for various levels of internal auditors. However, no reference is made to internal audit trainees or new internal auditors, or to the learning paths required to achieve the set competencies.
The aim of this qualitative study was therefore to propose a workplace learning framework for developing internal audit trainees into entry-level internal audit professionals. The literature review discussed the evolution of the internal audit profession and its impact on the competency requirements of internal auditors. The dimensions of workplace learning were explored. In addition, workplace learning in the accounting and auditing professions was examined globally, and in South Africa, with reference to different professional bodies competency frameworks, and the workplace learning component of these frameworks. Data were collected from focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews held in South Africa with 65 participants, including internal audit employers, internal audit trainees, presenters and assessors of internal audit workplace learning, and members of the IIA (SA) Education and Training Committee to determine their views on internal audit workplace learning. Based on the findings, the study proposes a workplace learning framework for developing internal audit trainees into entry-level internal audit professionals involving five dimensions: workplace learning criteria, workplace learning content, workplace learning methods, determinants of workplace learning success and challenges to workplace learning. It is recommended that internal audit stakeholders take cognisance of these dimensions when embarking on workplace learning to ensure that all constituencies benefit from entry-level internal audit professionals acquisition of professional competence.