Greg Hayes, director of Hayes Knight, stated that graduates can no longer be “stuffed into the back room” and assigned basic work, shifting the traditional means of exposure for the next generation of accountants.
“A lot of that lower level work has been automated, and in a lot of cases has been taken back by the clients,” said Mr Hayes.
A combination of outsourcing and technology has drastically reduced smaller firms’ desire to bring in a large number of graduates, and forced firms to re-evaluate their in-house training.
“Firms tend to have a lesser requirement for perhaps the number of graduates in that inexperienced area, and the actual program that you need to take graduates through is now a different style,” he said.
“You need to have a more structured training program to take them through whatever discipline they’re going to be working in.”
Mr Hayes indicated that with the current university curriculum continuing to focus on the technical aspects of the industry, many firms are choosing to recruit the next generation before they have embarked on their degree.
“They’re wanting to capture them prior to starting university, perhaps offering them a cadetship while they complete their degree part-time, so that when they actually come out of university they’ve got a much higher skillset.”
Mr Hayes noted however, that graduates are being exposed to client-facing roles much earlier than their predecessors were.
“I think that’s a positive because it’s actually getting them exposed to the practicalities of why they do what they do, as opposed to 10 years ago when there was a lot of graduates who were coming into the back office, and they were kept in the back office,” he said.