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The job market for qualified accountants is improving

The job market for qualified accountants in Northern Ireland is brightening, says Luke Fuller, Senior Manager at Hays Senior Finance.

Following a difficult past few years for the profession, we have experienced an increase in both permanent and temporary vacancies registered with us over the past six months. We have been able to assist some of the biggest employers in Northern Ireland secure good qualified accountants, with cost accountants amongst the most highly prized professionals. Manufacturers in particular are keen to recruit good people who know how to drive down the cost base.

We have seen new opportunities created as businesses re-structure their workforce in order to build a strong position for when the market changes for the better. In particular, there has been a rise in contracts of over 12 months, as clients seek to reduce risk and take advantage of the flexible nature of the current workforce.

Finding and retaining experienced professionals is key

For many organisations, the key challenge remains finding and retaining experienced professionals with the right skills and knowledge. According to a survey by Hays Senior Finance, 14% of employers say skill shortages will be their biggest obstacle to growth in 2011 and seven in 10 (67 per cent) of employers say retention of qualified accountants will be a key priority in 2011.

Four in 10 employers say they are worried they won’t be able to hold onto their star players. The research suggests that they may have good reason to worry, with seven in 10 (67 per cent) senior finance professionals saying they intend to look for a new job in early 2011.

The top quartile of candidates are ambitious and driven to progress their careers. But due to the lack of opportunities over the last few years, their career development has been on hold. If companies are not to seep talent, a career review must be scheduled to allow employees to outline their expectations. Employers can then set business objectives with a realistic timescale for achievement. This first step will mitigate against loss of key staff just when the market begins to improve.