Public sector finance professionals have key role in sustainability and addressing climate change

ACCA Global Talent Trends survey reveals public sector facing talent challenge

Finance professionals working in the public sector play a crucial role in addressing sustainability and climate change issues. ACCA’s (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Global Talent Trends survey shows three out of four public sector respondents agree that accountants will play a bigger part in helping organisations address this agenda in the future.

In one of the largest ever studies across the accountancy profession, ACCA’s inaugural Global Talent Trends Survey 2023 provides a unique and vital view of how people feel about working in the finance profession right now. Finance professionals working in the public sector share many of the same concerns as the wider profession, but there are some differences. 

ACCA’s research highlighted seven key talent trends for the public sector.

  1. Inflation is fueling wage pressure: the impact of rising prices on salaries is more of a concern for public sector employees than for any other sector.
  2. Hybrid work is a work in progress: a significantly lower proportion of public sector employees have adopted hybrid and remote working practices compared to the private sector. 71% of public sector financial professionals are fully office based compared to 57% in all sectors. 
  3. Addressing burnout must be a priority: just over half of public sector financial professionals (52%) believe their employers do not consider employee mental health to be a priority.
  4. Mobility is driving a possible talent crunch: public sector respondents indicated a similar level of mobility to the average of all sectors. However, amongst those planning to move roles, 4 in 10 public sector finance professionals expect to move internally in the next two years, while 5 in 10 are predicting an external move.
  5. Technology is empowering but training is key: 88% of those in the public sector want more technology training as they recognise the power technology has in supporting finance professionals to add more value. But 40% fear technology will replace all or part of their role.
  6. Inclusivity is strong but perceptions about social mobility are more troubling: 61% of public sector financial professionals think their organisation is inclusive (compared to 68% of all sectors), while 49% in all sectors (including public) have the perception that a lower socio-economic background is a barrier to progress. 
  7. In turbulent times accountancy provides career security: public sector financial professionals see the key benefits to a career in this sector as the opportunity to gain a professional qualification (38%); having a job with purpose (27%) and the ability to make an impact (23%) – scores which outstripped all sectors at 33%,23% and 17% respectively.

Jamie Lyon, head of skills, sectors and technology at ACCA, said: ‘Developing the talent of tomorrow is one of the top priorities for the accountancy profession, especially in the public sector. ACCA's inaugural annual talent trends survey ensures the voice of those working in the profession – including the public sector – is heard and that the profession helps create a working environment where today’s professionals thrive and where tomorrow’s talent wants to be.’

As well as providing valuable insights the report sets out the ways in which ACCA supports employers, student and members, as well as the wider public sector.

Mark Johnson, senior subject manager, public sector, ACCA, said: ‘These findings have important implications for public sector employers as they seek to retain and attract finance professionals to careers in the sector. While the sector faces its challenges, those working in accountancy and finance in the public sector see the ability to make a real difference to people’s lives as a key aspect of their roles. This new report is intended to support a workforce of vibrant and dynamic public sector finance professionals to drive through essential public financial management reforms.’ 

Full report


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About ACCA

ACCA is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. We’re a thriving global community of 241,000 members and 542,000 future members based in 178 countries and regions, who work across a wide range of sectors and industries. We uphold the highest professional and ethical values.

We believe that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society that supports both public and private sectors. That’s why we’re committed to the development of a strong global accountancy profession and the many benefits that this brings to society and individuals.

Since 1904 being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. And because we’re a not-for-profit organisation, we build a sustainable global profession by re-investing our surplus to deliver member value and develop the profession for the next generation.

Through our world leading ACCA Qualification, we offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. And using our respected research, we lead the profession by answering today’s questions and preparing us for tomorrow.

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