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Accounting graduate programs going ‘full steam ahead’

Business

Accounting graduate programs are not slowing down despite the COVID-19-induced downturn, as firms look to learn from their mistakes during the global financial crisis.

By Jotham Lian & Aidan Curtis 8 minute read

Despite redundancies and pay cuts at accounting firms as they grapple with the economic effects of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, graduate programs have been virtually untouched so far, according to recruitment firms.

“The vast majority of the grad employers we work with are pushing ahead with their recruitment campaigns, and are adapting their processes for assessment and selection to an online or virtual process,” GradConnection national account manager Alexandra Tyrrell said.

GradConnection, which services clients from the big four firms to the ATO, said all accounting employers were continuing with their recruitment processes, but some have “re-distributed the type of grads”.

“For example, audit is full steam ahead, as is restructuring, but consulting is a little more uncertain,” Ms Tyrrell said.

“Some have had to extend their applications, and a lot have had to push back their assessment and selection processes.

“Some numbers within programs may change, but we think that lessons were learnt from the GFC where companies cancelled grad programs, then came back into the market at a disadvantage for young talent, and some are now seeing gaps in their talent pipeline and even management levels as a result.”

Likewise, Geoff Adams, co-founder of graduate recruitment platform Prosple, said he has yet to see a drop off in advertisements for graduate roles.

“I believe employers are reluctant to switch off their brand entirely during a downturn as it takes a lot of time to regain their image in the eyes of quality candidates when the market bounces back,” Mr Adams said.

“This was learnt in the GFC.”

GradConnection also believes it is possible that students, graduates and the employers trying to attract them can benefit from the current situation.

“The fact that there are less events taking place at this time could actually work in favour of students and the employers trying to attract them, as there are less distractions in the market,” GradConnection said in a newsletter.

“It could even result in more time and effort being assigned to job search and applications.” 

While conceding it was too early to predict how the job market would play out for graduates over the next 12 months, Mr Adams believes graduates will now have to temper their salary expectations.

“It’s unfortunately too early to tell, but I imagine some drop in salary to fall in line with broader measures taken by employers to existing salaried team members,” he said.

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