Will the UK will see a shortfall of 10,200 qualified accountants by 2050?
According to recent research carried out by APSCo member Randstad, the UK will see a shortfall of 10,200 qualified accountants by 2050 due to many factors, including skills shortages and restrictive migration policies and work permit laws.
This is despite statistics published by SJD Accountancy that show a 65.4% increase in the number of non-EU accountants since 2010 and a corresponding increase in the number of work permits issued to non-EU accountants.
Moreover, the recent Brexit vote could further exacerbate matters, with the possibility of a change in migration laws.
The implication of the above is that we are not growing enough accountants in the UK. The basic rules of supply and demand would indicate that if the supply of accountants is increasingly lower than the demand, salaries will rise. Also, the UK is not the only country suffering. Australia and Canada seem to have similar problems.
According to figures released in a 2015 Australian Government Department of Employment labour market research paper on Accountants, a quarter of surveyed accounting vacancies remained unfilled six weeks after advertising in 2015.
“There were, on average, around 22 applicants per vacancy who were known to hold relevant qualifications at the bachelor degree or higher level1, but just 2.6 per vacancy were assessed as being suitable,” the report added.
This ties in with our own experience.
One of our clients advertised for a couple of AAT vacancies in the Spring. They received over 100 applicants but could only find 5 worth interviewing. Of these 5, only 1 was suitable and was offered a job – which they could not accept because they couldn’t obtain a work permit!
They have now thankfully filled their vacancies, but is a hugely time consuming process.
Don’t expect there to be a ready supply of suitable candidates at the time you choose to recruit. There is also likely to be competition for those candidates that are suitable.
You should try to tip the scales in your favour by building up a “pipeline” of potential candidates:
- Work with schools to promote accountancy as an attractive career for their brightest and best
- Do presentations to their 6th form and/or their GCSE group. Take one of your existing apprentices with you. Kids will relate more to them than to you
- Attend careers events at the schools where you would hope to attract future candidates
- Offer term time work experience to Year 10s (1st year of GCSEs) or even earlier, before students have chosen their options (note: ICAEW provide members a free work experience toolkit http://bit.ly/2a5ziC1)
- Use this as a basis of offering follow up work experience over the summer holidays – probably over 4 weeks so they can get stuck into some real work
- Assess how they have done and provide feedback
- Those who have done well and fitted in well, offer follow up work experience, over the next summer holidays
- Probably best to avoid the Easter hols as they could/should be preparing for impending exams!
- If you generally look to recruit at least one AAT / Apprentice each year, you will probably need to have at least two Year 10s every year so that you have a pool to choose from
- Gear up to provide consistent work experience each year. Ideally a mix of manual and computerised accounting. Some clients with “nice books”. Identify suitable buddies in the office. Establish a simple process with set staff responsible so it does not become “a pain”.
For those based in the South West, we can probably help on quite a lot of the above:
- We attend a series of schools and apprenticeship careers events. Let us know if you are looking to recruit and/or happy to offer work experience, and when
- We also do careers presentations at certain schools
- We can advise on how to develop a short work experience programme
- We run our own “Talent programme” for suitable candidates looking for an apprenticeship. This provides initial assessment, careers guidance, job hunting advice and some free initial bookkeeping training to help them become more employable
If you would like advice on any of the above, do give us a call on 01392 311925 or email [email protected]