Despite the longest double dip recession in more than 60 years, UK accountancy firms are increasing their investment in graduate recruitment and training programmes, according to a survey of Britain’s Top 100 accountancy practices by leading software provider CaseWare UK.
The recent survey results have coincided with the announcement in October that the UK exited recession in the third quarter of 2012; prompting Bank of England deputy governor Charlie Bean to announce that the UK economy has "reason for some optimism”. This ‘optimism’ is clearly shared by the accounting firms surveyed by CaseWare.
When asked about confidence in the UK market recovery and following the announcement that the UK economy is expected to contract by 0.3% in 2012, only 15% suggested that they were ‘quite concerned’. With over 50% stating they are ‘Quite confident’ or ‘Very confident’, accounting practices are clearly looking to, and expecting, a bright economic future.
A positive response to the continued economic crisis was also demonstrated in questions regarding graduate recruitment. With almost 10% of last summer’s graduates still without a job six months later (Telegraph, June 2012), it was a little surprising that only 12% of accountancy firms had seen a decrease in graduate starters this year.
Of those surveyed by CaseWare, 60% stated the same number of graduates had joined the company whilst 28% had seen an increase in student numbers. This was supported by the annual ‘Graduate Market’ survey by independent market research company High Fliers, which found that almost half of employers were looking to recruit more graduates, expecting “to expand their graduate intake by a further 6.4% in 2012.”
As well as employing the right staff, it’s crucial for firms to ensure existing staff can do their job properly. An Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey found that 90% of company executives agreed that additional training would boost employee productivity by 5% or more. However, with 44% of UK-based respondents conceding that their organisations could do more to promote innovation through training; accounting firms are bucking this trend with less than 10% decreasing investment in staff training.
With almost 65% saying that the economy will impact their company’s investment into training, it would be expected that this would signal a decline in training programmes. In fact only 9% of firms are investing less, 63% have maintained their training spend and 28% are actually spending more this year.
Although 97% of accountancy practices claimed they have been pressured to reduce accountancy and audit fees, the survey results show a commitment to training, development and recruitment.