This isn’t a news flash, but it’s sure as heck a shot fired over the bow for people in the accounting world to pay attention to, if they haven’t been already: In 2019, CPA Exam candidates were the lowest number they’ve been for more than a decade.
That fact alone may not sound terribly concerning, after all, not every business needs a CPA. Let’s put it into context though; the bigger picture reveals that it isn’t just CPAs who are in short supply. The current talent shortage is unfortunately a reality for many (most) of the roles in the accounting field from entry level to accounts receivable managers and CPAs to CFOs. These positions are going vacant in both accounting firms and organizations that are in need of team members for accounting departments. For those struggling to hire accounting staff, things are feeling dire. No longer are there hundreds of qualified applicants for a single job posting.
In the 2020 ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey, globally, accounting and finance roles ranked seventh out of the 10 hardest positions to fill (eighth here in Canada). Imagine trying to run a company without people who have the acumen to look at the numbers, analyze data and make key financial decisions. It’s a frightening spot to be in from the hiring side of things, perhaps even more scary for those who rely on these accounting minds to keep things running optimally in an organization.
This does, however, present a massive opportunity for individuals who like balance sheets, finance, receivables, numbers, data and all that accounting offers. With some education and a passion for the industry, those who want to work in the accounting field have tremendous options available to them.
Opening New Doors of Opportunity
Education institutions such as Ashton College have long been leaders in providing accounting courses that can help individuals make a career change into the accounting field or move up from a basic, entry-level role to a more advanced one. A certificate in accounting can be what allows for a new realm of opportunities.
Taking continuing education courses can easily permit an individual to continue in their current career while striving for a new one in accounting. If you have an interest in the accounting field, now is the time to start exploring courses and options that allow you to make the transition or step up into the career you seek.
Why is there an Accounting Talent Shortage?
Quick reviews of interactive sites like Reddit and blogs about the issue point to numerous contributing factors:
- We can blame COVID for people realizing they don’t want to commute 3 hours a day to a job they aren’t loving and they’ve realized it’s time to find something they do love. This opens the door to people who absolutely love accounting and are located in the right areas or can negotiate flexible working arrangements which many organizations have embraced thanks to COVID
- COVID can also be partly to blame for the mass exodus of retiring accountants; some thought they’d stick it out for a while longer until the pandemic hit and they pulled the proverbial plug on going into the office. This is again a benefit to those up-and-comers int eh field who want to establish a career in the accounting field
- Technology was long touted as a way to reduce accounting staff and while this has done so to a degree, the reality is that human beings are still needed to make assumptions and judgements leaving some organizations understaffed and unprepared. The end result is that human beings with accounting course knowledge are still essential and highly sought after
Certainly there are more issues, but this illustrates there is no single thing to point a finger at for the shortage of accounting staff. Again, while this is a hardship for those seeking accounting staff, it lights the way for those who want to make their way into the field.
Time for Creativity
For firms that are facing a staffing shortage, there is a need for creative solutions on the inside to bring more harmony and less stress to the organization. This creativity needs to come in the form of re-considering traditional roles and individuals applying as well as bolstering hiring and retention practices. Basically, firms need to be flexible, get good people in and keep them in place.
This repeats the message of opportunity to those who want to pursue a career in the accounting field. With few candidates in the pool, there is much more opportunity to ask for, and receive more of the perks people seek in today’s job market. This can be anything from more vacation time and a better work station to flexible work arrangements and improved benefits like advancing your education further.
Anytime there is a talent squeeze, it’s the employers that get creative which come out for the best. These organizations are more successful in retaining great talent, they are also better at attracting more great talent because word gets out about how people are treated. Take your time as you look for your next employer because you will be in demand!
Read our other blog: Building Your knowledge Better Supports the HR Team and Your Future