A new survey highlights the ongoing workforce challenges facing Australia’s professional services firms.
Chartered Accountants ANZ (CA ANZ) surveyed 18 Australian professional services and audit firms in July 2022, ranging from small to large firms, with a focus on vacancies, recruitment, and skilled migration challenges.
The survey revealed almost 1,000 audit job vacancies, up from 888 in 2021, and almost 2,000 non-audit / consulting vacancies across the 18 firms.
The roles were mostly for junior and intermediate level professionals, and on average it is taking three to six months to fill them.
Crucially, many candidates are offered roles but are being lost due to visa delays.
CA ANZ Group Executive Advocacy Simon Grant said the results were concerning and provide a window into the challenging talent market as a result of a tightening skilled migrant workforce and exhausted domestic talent pool.
“The skills shortage in Australia is dire – there is no sugar coating that,” Mr Grant said.
“There are a lot of factors that contribute to talent pathways – and the profession is maximising all of these levers with increased training and educational pathways, flexible and innovative working opportunities and cross-functional requirements.
“But with 3.5 percent unemployment, and most roles needing specific technical skills and training, skilled migration is an essential part of the solution and also an inflation-buster by releasing supply pressures on the economy.
“Without support on skilled migration the situation is increasingly concerning and firms cannibalising each other’s talent is not a sustainable solution.
“The sector recognises it needs to be part of the solution and there is a valuable opportunity for the corporates and the Government to work together and devise a sensible and practical solution that gets us out of this situation.
“Our organisation attended the National Economic Summit hosted by the late Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke in 1983, and we contributed to the productive and robust discussions around policy options and major economic reforms to address the challenges of the time.
“We applaud the Albanese Government’s initiative and look forward to the Jobs and Skill Summit delivering practical solutions across all sectors.
“For Australia to thrive, that includes tapping into the global talent market. But the current delays and restrictions on visa applications for our skilled migration workforce is crippling our industry and many others.”
CA ANZ has called on the Albanese Government to focus on longer-term policy solutions, rather than relying on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) which was a temporary Covid-19 measure.
CA ANZ also called on the Albanese Government to urgently address the capacity issues that have arisen in processing visas, as the PMSOL program has grown beyond its initial purpose.
The organisation successfully spearheaded a push last year to include accountants and auditors on the PMSOL in an effort to help the sector during an extremely tight jobs market.
Other findings from the CA ANZ survey include:
- 997 audit vacancies were identified, compared to 888 in the previous year.
- 1,971 non-audit / consulting vacancies were identified, mainly for junior and intermediate level professionals.
- The firms surveyed had 519 candidate skilled visa applications outstanding. Of that, 320 were for auditors, 93 for general accountants, and 106 for other skilled occupations.
- On average, the firms lost between 1 to 50 candidates who pulled out with visa delays being a key factor.
- Staffing shortages are leading to a range of impacts, including:
- 61 per cent citing staff are over-worked
- 61 per cent citing they are unable to service existing clients
- 56 per cent citing inability to meet reporting deadlines
- 44 per cent citing damage to the reputation of the profession