Despite recent job cuts across many
sectors, the accounting industry is likely to face a skills
shortage in coming years, according to a report from recruitment
firm Robert Half.

The report, Preparing For the UK’s Recruitment Needs: The Next
Five Years
, said regulation was one factor threatening the

It also warned against new entrants
specialising too early in their careers and missing out on broader
experience. It suggested educational institutes could restrict
their teaching of deep technical knowledge and increase the
commercial aspects of the curriculum in order to deal with the
potential shortage.

The director of education at the UK-based
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), Robert Jelly,
told The Accountant he agreed regulatory issues could be a
factor in deterring new entrants from the profession, especially
within audit.

“There are a lot of regulatory issues that are
now involved in audit training, not least IFRS, and it is not the
most exciting of materials to attract new people into the
industry,” he said.

He added that teaching broader commercial
skills is crucial, particularly ‘soft’ skills such
as negotiation and interpersonal skills.

“We think [the] CIMA [qualification] is
already strongly based in those areas but we have increased the
exposure of our students to the impacts of globalisation, that
includes finance function, offshore [business process outsourcing],
shared services,” he said.

Robert Half managing director Phil Sheridan
said the profession must look beyond the downturn, continue to
focus on attracting and retaining the next wave of accounting
professionals, and work hard to rebrand and become more attractive
to today’s young people. 

“Every new working generation is shaped by the
social, technological and economic environment of the day, and
Generation Y is no different. In an era where communication and
technology is at the forefront, employers need to embrace this
group in order to meet the business challenges of the future,”
Sheridan added.