Mr Hunter set forth CPA Australia’s position on the skills shortage to the Ombudsman and Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O'Connor.
His full statement is below:
“A shortage of accountants has broad implications for the economy. Accountants prepare the financial and non-financial data that business and governments rely on to make critical investment decisions. Accountants are critical enablers to the efficient operation of the economy, business growth and job creation.
“Before the pandemic, skills shortages in the accounting profession were already an issue. The current situation is now critical. Latest data shows there’s a huge, unmet demand, with jobs ads for accountants increasing by 34 per cent in the year to June 2022.
“Tough economic times mean accountants are in huge demand but the homegrown supply of accounting and finance professionals falls far short of meeting this demand.
Firstly, we need to increase the cap on highly-skilled migrants.
“Skilled migrants’ contribution to employment and growth are enormous. They’re currently filling skills shortages that will keep growing – especially as the economy rebounds.
“The continued downward trend of domestic tertiary studies in accounting means it will be tough to close the skills gap. Students leave Australia after graduating because of ‘temporary’ Student Visas.
“Since the pandemic hit, accountants haven’t been invited to express their interest in migrating under the Skilled Independent Points Tested Pathway. Accounting is on the PMSOL, but it’s restricted to employer-sponsored migration.
“We need to encourage permanent skilled migration. We need to reconsider ‘temporary’ student Visas, focussing on ‘permanent’ opportunities. We want short-form credentials recognised for skilled migrants.
“And we need a review of the Migration Program, to improve efficiency, including Visa processing and the timeline – it can take over two years!
“Secondly, we need more focus on training. This won’t solve the current skills shortage, but it’ll set Australia up for long-term success.
“We want free or highly subsidised vocational training in areas of crucial short-term need, to increase the labour pool and reduce skills shortages. We need to encourage more people to complete courses in areas of skill shortages.
“We also need to improve small businesses’ technology skills. Australian small businesses are digital laggards among the Asia Pacific. We’d like the government to provide more funding to increase technology training for small businesses.
“This economic climate allows government to incentivise them to invest in capital, rather than scarce labour, for efficiency. Capital investment should be encouraged, so digitisation and automation can help relieve pressure on the job market.
“We want the government to confirm they’ll proceed with the Digital Skills and Tech Deduction Boosts, announced by the previous government. The government should also make temporary full expensing permanent for small business to encourage investment and improve cashflow.
“We’re keen to work collaboratively to solve these problems.”
Jennifer Duke, External Affairs Lead on 0438 592 389 or email: [email protected]
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