The talent drought is confirmed by the latest figures from SEEK.
Gap widens between accounting jobs ads and seekers
Job ads and job applicants are going in opposite directions according to the latest data from SEEK, with accounting vacancies rising 19 per cent in the year to the end of April but candidates declining 38 per cent.
Core roles such as financial accounting and reporting were most in demand with advertisements up ahead of the trend at 32 per cent, while there was also strong demand for financial managers and controllers (up 29 per cent) as well as accounts officers and clerks (up 22 per cent).
Senior analytics manager at SEEK, Leigh Broderick, said vacancies were concentrated in the traditional accounting roles and while accounting was suffering a talent drought, it was not alone.
He said the 38 per cent drop in applications for positions was a figure seen in similar professions over the past 12 months.
“Pretty much across the board those sorts of falls in candidate availability in the 30-40 per cent range are fairly typical, year on year,” he said.
“The experience of the accounting profession is not unique.”
Two dynamics were operating in the job market, he said.
“Sheer demand itself is a big contributor to this – because the number of people around to fill roles doesn’t change very quickly,” he said.
“And because there’s so much opportunity out there, the available supply is just getting stretched across a lot more roles.”
So demand for candidates had gone up but the number of available jobseekers had changed very little, he said. That was responsible for about half the talent drought, but the rest came down to applicant attitudes.
“The other half is attributable to candidate sentiment that is still very cautious. COVID made candidates very gun-shy to move roles, for obvious reasons, and that sentiment even two years on is still a strong demotivator for moving roles,” he said.
Jobseekers were looking at ads but their monitoring behaviour was not translating into action.
“That hesitation is still essentially taking candidates off the table,” he said.
“People are not disengaging with the workforce – there’s no evidence to suggest that. People are just not willing to change roles.”
One sign of this, he said, was the interest in contracting roles.
“Contracting roles have fallen out of favour in a big way, and candidates are much more interested in searching for certainty,” he said.
The SEEK figures showed even in a month affected by the Easter recruitment lull, some niche accounting specialties are in high demand. Vacancies increased 50 per cent for cost accounting over the past month while ads to attract forensic accountants rose 39 per cent and those for systems accounting and IT audit lifted 16 per cent.
Mr Broderick said the talent drought might be easing slightly with some encouraging signs in the data. ABS statistics showed the intention to switch employers in the next 12 months was at 10 per cent – the highest it had been for years.
Meanwhile SEEK’s own figures showed an increase in applicant confidence, a rise in the perception of opportunities, and a decline in inertia.
“Collectively, all of these indicate there might be some shifts in the broader sentiment of hesitation,” he said.
“Candidates are interested. They’re just not pushing the button.”