It’s no secret that Finance and Accounting talent is difficult to locate and even harder to hire. At companies all over the country roles are going unfilled, CFOs are left shorthanded, and over time the shortage begins to effect every department in an organization. Despite the widespread acceptance that there is a problem, very few take the time to investigate the root of why the skills shortage in Finance and Accounting exists and, most importantly, how to solve it.
Demand Is High
As the accounting sector is expected to grow 11% through 2024, the problem of unfilled openings that plagues accounting departments shows no signs of fixing itself. Overall demand is unquestionably high, with 72% of recruiting professionals saying they have trouble filling these positions. Specifically, the workers most in demand are the ones with specialized and proven experience that often takes years of industry career progression to cultivate.
Supply Is Low
Just as in economics, a shortage occurs when high demand meets low supply. With college coursework in accounting focusing on early-career CPA skills, gaps occur when these graduates do not receive additional or specialized on-the-job training. This has resulted in employers finding it difficult to fill an open position due to a lack of experience. According to industry executives and managers, these are the top 10 hardest to find skills in Finance and Accounting:
The Generational Shift
The emergence of Millennials in the workforce has further skewed the hiring equilibrium. With Baby Boomers retiring in vast numbers, Finance and Accounting hiring managers must rely on a new generation to fill roles. Unfortunately, this presents a number of challenges that adds to the skills shortage.
Millennials value new technology highly and desire roles that are cutting-edge, provide a work-life balance, and produce a positive impact on the world at large. This mentality leads many toward other career paths both during and after their education. Even when they do enter the Finance and Accounting field, Millennials naturally have less professional experience than the outgoing workers they are trying to replace simply because they are younger and have had less time to hone their skills.
With two thirds of Millennials planning to leave their company within the next four years, retention and loyalty is an added concern. Hiring a Millennial Accountant and using the same methods as the last thirty years to train and retain them will only serve to increase turnover. However, if strategies are shifted to cater to the younger generation’s mentality, then these bright minds can be a saving grace to the skills shortage in Finance and Accounting.
Solutions are Available
Steps can be taken to close the skills gap and recruit talent for roles, both currently and in the future. Accountants are holding training sessions with high school students across the country, solely for the purposes of teaching them about the field and garnering their future career interest. While they may not be looking to hire a teenager, it will only be a couple years before that student is looking for an internship and direction for their degree. Investing in the youth is a great solution for the long-term.
There are quicker solutions than grooming talent that won’t be ready to join the workforce for several years. Millennials that are currently professionals in the industry can be recruited and retained in a number of ways. Clearly communicating a future career path, making them feel included with the company as a whole, and providing them volunteering opportunities will touch on what they value the most and encourage their loyalty.
Regardless of age, 37% of employers have increased training budgets to address the talent shortage. This can include internal traditional on-the-job training, professional development sessions, and even certifications such as the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) Certification. Opening up to the idea that training can round out candidates will suddenly increase the amount of available talent that can be considered. Knowing a specific certification or training program can take a candidate that is 80% qualified for a role and get them to near perfect will make the burden of hiring much lighter for managers.
The Skills Shortage in Finance & Accounting
It can be discouraging to fill a role knowing that the challenge of a skills shortage exists, but understanding the problem and potential solutions is the first step to successfully hiring in today’s Finance and Accounting environment. Once steps are taken to locate and attract the top talent, the latest industry compensation figures become essential to being able to extend a competitive offer to a candidate and keep current employees on pace with the salaries of their peers.
For the most up-to-date industry compensation figures, download our 2017 Finance & Accounting Salary Guide today.
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