Accountancy sector encouraged to think about future talent recruitment

Accountancy sector encouraged to think about future talent recruitment

Financial firms should not be afraid to utilise Generation Z and socio-economic diverse talent, research suggests.

Accountancy sector encouraged to think about future talent recruitment

The wave of Generation Z talent entering the workforce is placing high importance on financial literacy and entrepreneurship, according to new research – with the accountancy sector encouraged to do more to attract new talent from all backgrounds.

Commissioned by AAT, the study surveyed 16 to 24-year olds across all socio-economic backgrounds. Of the 1,001 surveyed, 50% of respondents reported wanting to create their own business during their career, with 40% placing value on financial literacy.

The AAT survey follows closely behind a study by Reed Finance that showed six in 10 finance teams now realise they need to adapt to attract Generation Z talent, and those changes are already taking place in the industry.

The ambitious drive of Generation Z indicates that accountancy firms need to become accessible across socio economic divides, offering social mobility programmes and utilising alternative hiring methods – and, as Generation Z grows up, they need to change quickly.

AAT’s recent mobility programme, run by internship organisation The Brokerage, allowed eight interns to join the team for six weeks. Paid at the London living wage, the interns acted as staff, building critical technical skills and fostering interest in the accountancy industry.

Alicia McAloon, senior HR advisor at AAT, said: “The internship aligns with our responsible business strategy and all staff really benefit from the interns being here.”

According to Olivia Hill, chief HR officer at AAT, over 123,000 accountants have joined the workforce since 2010, and the accountant demographic is continually diversifying itself. Additionally, a 2017 ICAEW report showed that firms are continuing to broaden their recruitment strategies, specifically targeting both gender and socio-economic diversity.

As more organisations create alternative avenues into a career in accountancy, like these social mobility programmes, that demographic will continue to evolve.

“Although degrees can be one route into the workplace, we focus more on the skills and experience of the individual alongside someone who matches AAT’s values whilst we are hiring,” Hill said.

Diversification of qualifications

As young people move into the workforce, that acceptance of a diverse range of qualifications will benefit both job-seekers and hiring managers.

Of the survey respondents, only 52% were willing to complete a degree, with 38% and 37%, respectively, prepared to either change careers to take on an apprenticeship. These new ways of entering the workforce have encouraged AAT to re-evaluate its hiring methods, looking at both new hires and flexible working for existing staff.

“We’re also aiming to work with an agency supporting people who used to work with the armed forces transition to civilian life through opportunities in the workplace,” Hill said.

With the ever-changing job market, this flexible look at the hiring process may prove essential to recruit accountants.

Across the board, 60% of survey respondents expected to upskill during their working life, with only 9% expecting to work at one company for their entire career. With the majority of respondents ready to bounce from job to job, time needs to be invested in critical hires to benefit both the employee and the company.

Speaking on the next generation of graduates, Adam Harper, director of strategy and professional standards at AAT, said: “A qualification in finance not only prepares young people for the future but unlocks the door to an abundance of career opportunities.

“Every sector out there needs core financial skills and accountancy, and you are not necessarily tied to working in the finance services industry.”

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