05/07/2006 - 09:35

Accountant numbers get crunched - shortage looms in WA: ICA

05/07/2006 - 09:35

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The shortage of accountants in Western Australia is about to get worse, with up to two in three accounting students wanting to move either overseas or interstate, a new study by the Institute of Chartered Accountants has revealed.

Accountant numbers get crunched - shortage looms in WA: ICA

The shortage of accountants in Western Australia is about to get worse, with up to two in three accounting students wanting to move either overseas or interstate, a new study by the Institute of Chartered Accountants has revealed.

And with another 77 per cent, surveyed by the Institute, saying they went into accounting because of the career opportunities and diversity as opposed to the 5 per cent who agreed that salary was a motivator, the brain drain looks set to continue.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants, General Manager for Western Australia, Con Abbott said that these findings were not at all surprising and are consistent with the nature of Generation Y , who are motivated by personal fulfilment rather than personal wealth.

"Western Australian businesses wanting to recruit and retain talented accounting staff should be preparing for the emergence of generation Y, who are driven by a desire for greater work life balance rather than personal wealth, this involves adapting to new procedures including, travel opportunities, further education, more flexibility and career progression," Mr Abbott said.

Interestingly enough, the survey also revealed that all students have very different career expectations with 10 per cent expecting to be chief executive officers in 10 years, 15 per cent expect to be chief financial officers and more than nine per cent expect to be in the general manager's position.

The Institute actively lobbied the Federal Government to work towards reducing the skills shortage in its May Budget, without success.

The Institute will continue to lobby for making it easier for foreign students to stay and work in Australia once they have finished their degrees, changing the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) funding for accounting and commerce degrees to make them more attractive to potential students, making Australia a more attractive place for professionals to work through changes to the personal tax system and encouraging experienced accountants not currently in the workforce back into the profession.

Coinciding with the burgeoning strength of generation Y in the marketplace, leading talent development expert and author of the acclaimed book, Generation Y: Thriving (and Surviving) with Generation Y at Work, Peter Sheahan, claimed that the Institute's survey echoed the findings in his own research.

"Accounting is an excellent platform to launch a career because of the many opportunities the profession provides," Mr Sheahan said.

"However, employers should beware - just because these emerging students have chosen accounting, don't expect Generation Y-ers to follow a traditional career path. They are entrepreneurial and want to seek greater diversity, so accounting is an ideal starting point," Mr Sheahan said.

"In a climate where flexibility, diversity and lifestyle are key to engaging generation Y, it is essential for businesses to distinguish themselves apart from other potential employers in order to recruit and retain talented accounting staff," Mr Abbott said.

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