The Australian accounting industry has long been an attractive profession and the appeal of the industry continues to grow. A new survey from recruitment firm Hays has found that the industry’s job market is showing positive signs of growth as the job market reaches a two-year high. Where is this new growth, and does the industry have enough talent to meet the demand?
Hays report that many organisations are actively recruiting staff, with candidates increasingly interested in re-entering the jobs market in search of their next role. The biggest areas of demand, according to Hays, is for strong operational accountants – particularly SAP super users. In addition, employers are reportedly seeking candidates with strong analytical skills.

Other areas of high demand cited by Hays include:

  • End-to-end payroll officers
  • Candidates with relevant systems experience, such as CHRIS 21, Empower, Kronos, Micropay Meridian and ADP
  • Credit controllers
  • Temporary financial accountants to assist with end of financial year workloads
  • Tax Accountants, with many commercial organisations seeking to keep this specialty in-house to reduce their external consultant costs
  • Business Analysts
  • Management Accountants who can help automate processes and improve transparency
  • Accounts payable staff, specifically for the construction industry.

While the number of job vacancies is very good news, there is suggestion that employers are struggling to find candidates. Hays do report that candidates are receiving multiple job offers, indicating that there may be more jobs than there are appropriate candidates. Part of the reason for this may lie with the declining number of Australians studying accounting at university.

Reports have shown that there has been a drop in the number of students studying accounting – both Australian and international students. Since 2001, the number of Australian students studying accounting has dipped, with 20% fewer choosing this field of study. Showing growth, however have been the number of international students enrolled in our institutions. Of the 8,000+ students currently studying accounting, over 6,000 of them are international students.

Australian tertiary institutions have seen close to a 500% increase in the number of international students finishing undergraduate accounting degrees between 2001-2012. While the figure sounds dramatic, it does speak well of the quality of education that our local schools do provide. With so many international students seeking to study accountancy, it is clear that our accounting graduates are of a strong standard.

These are favourable conditions for the industry to take full advantage of. With growth in the employment prospects of graduate accountants, combined with Australia’s educational institutions being so well-regarded internationally, there is a wonderful opportunity to attract, train, and nurture professionals who exhibit considerable promise.

As the industry grapples with issues like automation, there are opportunities for existing professionals in the industry to evolve and shift their own skills to meet the current and emerging demands. In facing less competition from graduates entering the marketplace, current accounting professional will find that this reported growth offers a wealth of opportunity.