There are many misconceptions about accountancy. Seen in the past, perhaps unkindly, as projecting Dickensian images of men in frock coats wielding quills over stuffy ledgers.
That has changed dramatically and accountancy is right at the heart of the 21st century technological revolution, although there are still a few grey men in grey suits stalking the corridors of accountancy firms.
But as the economy comes out of the pandemic doldrums, many positive indicators like Covid-induced public spending beginning to fall, job vacancies up and unemployment falling, is tempered by skill shortages across the UK economy.
The growth is good news for SMEs with people spending on their houses with improvements and cash saved during the lockdown flowing back into the economy. Even accountancy shows are taking place again.
The SME market makes up over 95 percent of UK businesses and they are, obviously, vitally important for accountancy firms.
The challenge is to recruit the right staff . Not an easy task according to a recent survey which suggests three quarters of industry is feeling the impact of skilled worker shortages, with 73 per cent of accountancy firms said to be struggling.
There could be a number of factors at play here including the Covid pandemic itself, changes to IR35 contracting rules and possibly the effects of Brexit and thousands of European workers returning home.
The pandemic itself may well have had an impact, affecting training and mentoring as more people worked in isolation in their homes.
Defining skilled workers is difficult, because there are skills in all sectors of employment including some of the hardest hit in hospitality, logistics and particularly in white collar areas like accountancy.
In a technologically dominant world, all bring their own special skills to the table, whether it be working as a specialist in a top restaurant or hotel, or a logistics expert in a transport firm, they are all important.
Not everyone who goes into accountancy has a degree or higher level education qualification, so there is an opportunity for a wide labour market to be tapped.
That shortage and opportunity presents challenges for accountants not only attracting the right staff, but outlining a career path for those who wish to progress. That way staff are happier and likely to work that much harder to achieve further advancement. Give people a pathway and they will grasp the opportunity.
There are many things to consider, not least succession planning within the company, how to keep good members of staff and promote them and then how to replace them.
Yes, there will always be the need for compliance, which is still key, with bookkeeping, payroll and tax returns seen by many as mundane tasks, but are new opportunities for others to join the industry.
But it also begs the question. How do you retain and develop good staff? Beyond compliance, accountancy has moved into a web-based world that opens up possibilities for those who may have never considered a career in that field.
Some firms may wish to fill almost every vacancy from an internal promotion, but encouraging staff to progress means filling in the positions they have vacated and that’s where expertise from an expert outsourcing firm like GI offers a tailored solution.
A win-win really, it’s just the problem of replacement and succession and making the job look sexy enough to attract new people.
But presenting a modern new image is less of a problem in this new technological world. Hundreds of cloud applications are now available and being updated regularly. Working for an accountancy involves both human interaction with customers, management and hi-tech skills, will attract many who may never have considered working in this field.
The development and integration of apps and IT proficiency are all necessary in this business as technology gathers pace. GI Outsourcing has the expertise to help.
Within GI we understand the need for careful training and mentoring and can have someone working for four years with a certain client before they are promoted to run their own team.
Many of the compliance tasks associated with accountancy can be seen as of a lesser standing, but for a place like India, where many of our staff are based, it is seen as a job to be held in high esteem and rightly so because they perform important tasks that save time and money for clients.
Some of our team members will have spent years with clients, reaching a high level of competence and will have gone through our inhouse training school.
We invest in our people through our training at GI Academy and that investment pays off with our service to clients.
Should the skills shortage persist, firms have choices to make. Do they recruit internally, putting investment into training for a longer term benefit.
Or do they turn to services like GI, with its huge portfolio of satisfied clients, who can fill in as the succession process continues, who can provide training and expertise for the huge range of app-based cloud automation software and of course ease the load when unexpected absences occur.
To find out how GI Cloud Consultancy can help you, contact us today.