Caleb - this was a great exchange and happy to close with one about our people and future staff.
There is no doubt that the skills required by our current and future staff will require change over the near term. The training and educational requirements are already being influenced by things like data auditing, data analytics/analysis, cloud computing and data security. In fact, these are courses my daughter (a college senior audit/accounting major) will be taking as part of her MBA program next year. Our people will also need to develop their review, supervisory and project management skills earlier in their careers.
So we are already working with Universities to ensure they tailor their curriculum for these transformational changes. This movement is not only critical, but it also presents great opportunities for enhanced growth & development.
I think there a couple of interesting things in there that you mentioned (I'm revisiting the automation bit here):
1) "automating and creating alternative delivery solutions on routine, high volume, non-judgmental transactions"
Do you think technology will progress to the point where we testing 100% of a company's transactions is not only possible, but customary?
And 2) Because audit professionals can set aside the high volume work to focus on exceptions and areas requiring more judgment, could artificial intelligence and/or rigorous analytical tools allow for future audit engagements to expand their scope to areas like fraud detection or absolute assurance? (I realize that last concept is sorta crazy.)