The government must prioritise funding for accounting and finance courses with recent data indicating that accountant shortages are worsening, the accounting body says.
CA ANZ pushes Canberra to address ‘critical accountant shortage’
CA ANZ has called on the government to redesign the Job-ready Graduates (JRG) Package to recognise accounting, audit and finance professionals as a national priority.
The accounting body said increased Commonwealth funding must be increased for accounting, management and commerce courses to promote student enrolment in these fields and help reduce the shortages in these areas.
The JRG package was intended to increase the number of students entering courses aligned to future job growth or in national areas of priority by lowering the contribution that prospective students in those disciplines would have to contribute towards the cost of their studies.
Management, commerce and accounting are not recognised as a national priority, said CA ANZ in its submission to the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report.
“If national priorities are maintained, we suggest they should, as accounting, audit and finance professionals in Australia are currently in shortage and, in the absence of change, shortages will persist and grow into the future,” it stated.
“Recognising Accounting amongst Australia’s national priorities will also support Australia’s future STEM workforce. Around one in five STEM workers are business professionals who hold a business degree with a major in a field such as accounting, finance, statistics or economics. They rely on mathematics for activities such as accounting, financial analysis, auditing, statistical analysis and economic modelling.”
Recent data indicates that demand for accounting, audit and finance professionals remains high and that the ability to fill vacancies has not become easier, according to CA ANZ.
In its previous submission from April, CA ANZ stated that advertised job vacancies for accountants to February 2023 had risen to levels well above their pre-COVID-19 highs.
“Updated data through to July 2023 shows that vacancies for accounting, audit and finance professionals have increased by 23 per cent,” said CA ANZ.
“Robert Half’s latest survey finds that chief financial officers have a hunger to hire with nine out of ten expecting to recruit in the second half of 2023, including more than a third who plan to expand their team.
“Hays finds that 96 per cent of accountancy employers plan to increase salaries and over three quarters are planning to grow pay by more than three per cent, reflecting today’s tight jobs market.”
A third recruiter, people2people, found that almost half (46 per cent) of accounting teams had a shortfall of accountants, with six per cent being significantly short-staffed.
“In the absence of change, shortages will not only persist but grow,” CA ANZ warned.
Students have also become increasingly price-sensitive in their selection of courses, due to growing concerns about their ability to repay CPI-indexed loans.
“Changes to the approach to determining student contributions are important to minimise the risk that high student contributions relative to what graduates can expect to earn in their early careers may be a deterrent to students studying in areas of high need, such as Accounting, Management and Commerce,” said the submission.