We explore how trainees can take advantage of the opportunities that will exist for trainees post-Covid lockdowns, and the skills most in demand.
Covid-19 has pushed many businesses and industries into crisis mode. But, as has proved to be the case in previous economic downturns such as the 2008 recession, opportunities within accountancy tend to thrive.
Trainees will be in demand to support companies of all sizes as they restructure and identify unnecessary expenditure. Trainees with cost-cutting skills will be very in-demand.
As such, there are a number of ways trainees can prepare themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that should appear.
James Brent, senior business director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, says: ‘Proactive trainees that gather experience and relevant new skills will be better placed to secure new jobs ahead of trainees that don’t post Covid-19.
‘There are plenty of ways to do this including voluntary work experience, upskilling via online courses, watching Ted Talks, etc. The more you can do, the better.’
The Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends 2021 guide surveyed 3,800 employers and employees across accountancy and finance functions. It finds that, overall, the short-term outlook for the profession is positive.
Most employers (88%) say they expect their organisation’s activity levels to increase or stay the same this year, while over half (54%) of accountancy and finance employers plan to hire new staff. That is a higher figure than last year, with tax and audit and risk and compliance being two areas likely to see the most hiring activity.
Brent adds: ‘We have heard a lot about skills shortages in the profession and the consensus is that this is still an issue for employers.
‘Nearly three-quarters have experienced some form of skills shortage in the past year, with many admitting their organisations do not have the talent needed to achieve its current business objectives.’
These shortages may be owing to the fact that employers are on the lookout for new skillsets, particularly those drawing on soft skills.
The soft skills most in demand include:
These skills reflect a new world of work in which we are interacting differently and facing new and ongoing challenges.
It is likely you will be asked about how you have demonstrated these skills in the last 12 months if you have an interview, so that is a key aspect to be aware of.
Automation will increasingly relieve accountants of mundane admin tasks, leaving more time to focus on advising clients, problem solving and interpreting data – allowing the company can make strategic decisions.
Brent concurs: ‘The key technical skills that employers are looking for include Excel, data analysis, practical accounting experience and specific software experience.
‘Make sure you articulate these in both your job applications and interviews.’