Firms have to tackle skills shortage by looking into hiring policies and consider flexible working. Jenson Fisher are encouraged leaders in the accountancy industry to use the possible recovery from the recent pandemic as an opportunity to resolve overdue issues in the industry.

    Before the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, the fact newly qualified practitioners were able to earn more than the £40,000 average salary for the first time proved that accountants in Scotland were becoming scarce. This is not withstanding the fact experienced operators took home six-figure salaries.

    Jenson Fisher issued a warning in its April newsletter, saying that underlying issues were bound to hit the accountancy industry. The article pointed out the potential of these underlying issues intensifying over the coming months as a result of the fallout and trauma caused by the pandemic.

    A lack of succession planning, is one of the underlying issues highlighted, with possibilities of a lack of middle management, which could result from swinging cuts to graduate placement opportunities relating to the 2008 recession.

    The outbreak is devastating so many businesses and livelihoods and we hope we can all get through this in the healthiest possible position. That said, accountants in Scotland, on the whole, should find themselves in a better position than many trades. It's hard to think there won't still be excess demand for roles, such was the prevailing shortfall.

    We hope that firms also think thoroughly before cutting either middle management or graduate schemes off the back of the impending downturn, as happened throughout the last recession, which has now filtered through today with the reduced pipeline of clear future leaders. It is important that we attract more accountancy and finance professionals into the sector for the future of this essential industry.

    Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, firms talked a lot about their commitment to flexible working and being willing and able to cater for a modern workforce, but there is much evidence to suggest this wasn’t actually being actioned.
    Was this a staff trust issue, or resistance to change from a ‘old school’ work ethic, maybe, but now organisations have been forced to have our entire workforces work from home and recognise that the outputs did not drop, technology is available to manage staff and workflow and it is potentially extremely cost effect.

    The questions are, will this be reflected in major changes to workplace culture once we have the ability to safely return to office environments? Will we even rush back to our offices at all?

    So many practitioners are also juggling childcare and home-schooling and childcare to meet the needs to work at different hours. More than ever before, workplaces are going to have to prove to many seeking a career move that they can be an attractive, flexible employer able to cater those wishing to work from home.

    Another trend that was seen was the number of candidates ready to move to smaller companies. We expect to see a large amount of restructuring, redundancies, mergers and acquisitions which has meant that big organisations have lost some of their attraction. They were always seen as a safe bet, able to offer a clear path to progression, however, there has been an interest in start-ups, fintech and the opportunity to be more entrepreneurial. It'll be interesting to see whether this trend increases or abates following the Covid-19 fallout.