Ireland will struggle with a shortage of qualified accountants within the next few years unless there is an increased uptake of remote training across the sector. This warning came from CPA Ireland who said this shortage could have a profound impact on the wider economy if it is not addressed urgently.
President of CPA Ireland John Devaney said “during the last recession the number of trainee accountants fell off a cliff and this number has never fully recovered. The decade from 2008 witnessed the number of new accountancy students fall by 27%. This has resulted in an estimated shortfall of almost 15,000 trainee accountants within Ireland. Twelve years on accountancy remains on the critical skills list and employers continue to struggle to source qualified accountants. We now face the dual pressures of recession and a lack of training options which will confound the issue into a major problem.”
“Accountants play a crucial role in functioning economies. CPA Ireland has over
5,000 members who advise over 100,000 Irish SMEs. As we emerge from this crisis accountants are needed in practically every business to provide strategic advice and aid recoveries across all sectors. Therefore, a shortage of accountants could seriously undermine future economic growth.”
A recent survey of CPA Ireland members found that the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions are undermining the ability to train accountants. The survey found that:
• 62% of CPAs work in organisations where trainees are currently working remotely.
• 55% believe remote working will impact on the recruitment of trainees over the next year.
• 40% are confident in their ability to onboard new trainee hires remotely a further 32% are unsure.
According to Mr. Devaney the findings are concerning given the crucial role that on-the-job training plays within the profession. “Practical training of qualified entrants to the profession underpins education. Trainees also performs a vital support role within accountancy firms, as do newly qualified accountants and we must maintain a steady pipeline of both.
“Our message to all accounting firms is that the future of their industry requires their time and efforts in continuing trainee programmes. It is not an option that can wait for COVID to go away. I recognise that almost seven in ten find it difficult to supervise trainees remotely, but we have no choice as an industry but to try”.
“The experience across the sector is that it is taking longer for trainees to learn new tasks remotely. Patience and remaining committed to their development is a virtue which all of us must maintain.”
CPA Ireland is preparing its student members for the ‘new world of work’ by offering advice and training in remote work practice. CPA Ireland is also actively working to support its members and external employers in facilitating remote work through its employer network program. The service also supports the recruitment of trainees through its online jobs board and offers advice to employers in the tools and practices to assist in managing a remote worker.
Read coverage of press release in the Irish times here