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Calls to keep Accountants on SOL

With the Department of Employment stating that there is no shortage of accountants in Australia and calling for accounting to be taken off the Skilled Occupation List for migrants, peak industry bodies and employers alike warn that the shortage will become apparent as the economy picks up.

More new graduates are having a hard time finding work and companies now can afford to be choosy about who to hire, reports The Australian Financial Review.

“Accounting has already been flagged by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, which develops annual advice on the skilled list for DIBP as an occupation now considered a “borderline” inclusion on the list. The agency is doing a special investigation in the supply and demand for accounting skills.” says the report.

It’s argued that the link between accountancy and permanent visas has resulted in the number of international ­graduates finishing undergraduate accounting degrees skyrocketing by 500 per cent between 2001 and 2012.

However the number of Australians studying accounting has fallen 20 per cent since 2001. Peak accounting bodies are thus concerned that if the foreign stream should slow as the Australian economy picks up, a shortage may become apparent.

CPA Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants argue that international accounting students are “a critical source of future labour supply” for Australia and that there is a shortage of accountants especially in “regional, rural and remote areas”.

Pitcher Partners HR director Elizabeth Nunez warns that  whilst “Large organisations are not putting on the volume of graduates since the ­financial crisis” it could change and she is concerned that supply will tighten up again if business confidence lifts and companies start putting on additional resources

Courtesy of Migration Manager

Administrators note:

Accountancy in all of its forms, has traditionally been in short supply and as a result has remained on the SOL. From time to time however it comes under the spotlight with the ebb and flow of the economy and the local job market. The argument appears so have re–surfaced given the tightening labour market for these professions. If they are in excess then whilst the government can remove them in the short term to accommodate local candidates, the important thing is what happens if the economy indeed turns  around, where evidence shows that fewer local graduates are studying accountancy.

To then have to add the occupation back on the SOL in response to any such problem, delays the satisfaction of skill supply- other than by temporary measures under the 457 visa program – for at least 3 years, which is the period of study for an accountancy qualification, and could leave the Australian economy exposed.

Such knee jerk decisions may well impact upon numbers down the track and will leave many overseas students stranded.This will mean that these candidates may have to look at other visas not requiring listing on the SOL.However the risk in undertaking a period of study cannot be avoided in an environment where at the stroke of a pen an occupation can become de-listed and irrelevant for long term planning purposes – regardless of any ulterior motive.