Mid-level training gap spikes in accounting firms

Accounting firms are failing to provide sufficient training and development for mid-level managers who will one day become partners or senior managers, according to a recruiter.

A recent survey by recruitment firm Hays revealed that training and development are the second most important factors for employees across Australia and New Zealand (selected by 78 per cent), following closely behind work/life balance (85 per cent).

The survey also revealed that on-the-job learning is the most important method of upskilling for 85 per cent of employees, followed by formal training or courses paid by their employer (41 per cent).

Despite this, 48 per cent of Australia’s mid-level managers say that the training and development they now receive have decreased compared to the early years of their career.

Only 18 per cent said training and development had increased by the time they reached mid-management level, with the remaining 34 per cent saying it remained the same.

Hays regional director David Cawley told Accountants Daily that this lack of training and development is evident in the accounting industry.

“There is a lot of call from certainly smaller firms to future-proof their business and look for middle managers who, if a partner retired or something happened, can step up,” Mr Cawley said.

“Yet there is definitely a gap in the training and development on offer for those individuals, whether that's internally through programs within organisations or externally from people buying in services.”

Mr Cawley said employers want their employees to have soft skills, but aren’t providing them the opportunity to learn them.

“The technical capability tends to be trained fairly well through qualification, and because those are the skills that are being used on a daily basis, they tend to be fairly well maintained,” he said.

“The challenges we see are that the softer skills around development of individuals, who are going to be potentially, going on to manage other people and arguably be the senior managers and faces or organisations in the future, is the bit that's lacking.”

Mr Cawley said that there is a disparity between large and small firms when it comes to awareness and ability to provide training and development.

“I think naturally firms like the big four have very big, structured, large businesses that will have whole departments that can provide that kind of support,” he said.

“In small to medium firms, there is either a realisation of that gap and a lack of understanding or clear plan of how to bridge it; or in some of the smaller firms, there's not actually a realisation of that skill gap so they actually can't deal with a challenge that they don't actually really, fully, appreciate exists.”

 

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