Over the last two years, employers have found it increasingly challenging to find accounting talent. This is due to the disruption of COVID-19: lockdown limitations, border restrictions and economic instability.
According to GradConnection’s 2021 report there was a 68% increase in job listings last year and a 30% decrease in applications compared to the previous year.
“The war for talent is certainly what is occupying the minds of most people in the accounting profession at the moment, particularly those who are looking ahead to work they’ve got coming up and desperately wondering how they are going to fill that work,” said Simon Grant, who’s responsible for Advocacy, Professional Standing and International Development at Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand.
Job security on offer for audit and tax roles
Accounting graduates in 2022 specialising in audit and tax are in particularly high demand as employers struggle to find talent to fill those roles and meet critical skills shortages.
“The tax and audit style roles are generally quite consistent. They are still going to need those types of roles regardless of what happens in the industry because people still need to file tax returns, people still need to understand the tax implications of doing business,” said Alex Tyrrell, National Account Manager for GradConnection.
The future of sustainability and impact measurement
As the disruption of the last two years gives way to a more stable economy, new career pathways are opening up for accounting graduates. Future accounting graduates will have opportunities to use their skills in the form of climate-conscious accounting. Professionals will be needed to report, measure, and create frameworks for sustainable policies and operations.
“There's a great exciting change which is about to occur, which is in the sustainability climate measurement space. And who does that better than a bunch of accountants who are used to reporting, measuring, building, creating, those sorts of frameworks,” Simon said.
“That work will be great work for Gen Z. They lead with a purpose; they leave school with their minds full of great ideas around how they can change the world.”
Stability on offer with the Big Four accounting firms
While bigger firms took a step back from acquiring new employees last year due to unpredictable economic shifts during the pandemic, since coming out of lockdown these employers have been growing their teams significantly.
“The Big Four soaks up a lot of accounting jobs, for example, I know KPMG this year is hiring 1,200 people into their entry level roles, and I think Deloitte's somewhere around 2,000,” Alex said.
So, how can students monopolise on the high demand and start on their path to success today? Simon believes students should keep their studies broad in preparation for the accounting industry.
“Do economic subjects and economic accounting subjects to get a broader understanding of how finance plays out and some social science subjects, so you get a good feel for the world,” he said.
As international borders opened, Simon also highlighted the importance of the Chartered Accountants designation in providing opportunities for global travel and living.
"You’ve got a global profession of people who recognise each other, have the same skillsets and are quite interchangeable. It is truly a global profession.”