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Accountancy & Finance - Public Sector

April - June 2015

The jobs market in the public sector in New South Wales is picking up and there has been strong activity for both temporary and permanent roles. Employers are requesting candidates who have diverse backgrounds. As smaller organisations develop a functional Human Resources department, there has been a rise in demand for candidates with a full function payroll background.

Equally, we are seeing requests for Assistant Accountants who can take accounts to trial balance, maintain the general ledger and fixed assets, and process accounts payable and accounts receivable transactions. Salaries remain low and the gap between Payroll Officers, Senior Payrollers and Managers is widening.

With permanent hiring restrictions still in place in the Federal Government, departments are utilising the flexibility of a temporary workforce for project work and to clear backlogs. This has led to a major decrease in the amount of available candidates in the Canberra market who have public sector experience.

In Queensland the election had a big impact on hiring trends in the public sector. With the change of government there was a slowdown in hiring, but now the market is picking up again.

In Victoria most roles are temporary at the support level. Within Federal Government there are still hiring freezes while State Government hiring activity is slow due to the recent change of government. With the merging of government departments we anticipate that permanent recruitment will increase. The new Government has promised there will be no job losses so this may result in a slowdown in temporary hiring. However there may be a need for extra staff at the end of the financial year when the mergers are finalised.

In terms of skills in demand for the April – June 2015 quarter, we’re seeing a high demand for Management Accountants. Employers are looking for candidates with clearances who can do internal and external budgeting. As departments look to increase headcount to manage the portfolio budget reporting season, candidates with strong budgeting experience within the Government sector as well as external budgets experience are in demand.

Financial Accountants with a Government security clearance are highly sought. Also, candidates with knowledge of the Department of Finance reporting requirements (including FMA and PBS) are needed as departments look to backfill essential reporting staff. There is always a shortage of APS6 Financial Accountants with strong asset accounting exposure due to the demanding workloads in this area.

Systems Accountants are also needed to support system changes and implementations. We’ve seen a particular interest in candidates with TechnologyOne experience in the ACT.

Payroll Officers with systems implementation or project experience are sought. Payrollers with knowledge of the HRMIS, Chris 21, HR3 or ADP systems are particularly in demand as employers look to improve processes and reduce workloads by moving towards more automated systems. There continues to be a shortage of candidates, especially at the $60-65,000 level.

Multi-skilled Assistant Accountants with reporting experience and exposure to month-end workloads continue to be sought by many smaller charities.

Billings skills are sought in the aged care and health sectors. Tighter restrictions on funding and changes to legislation around recovering patient revenue in these sectors have led to a demand for candidates with these skills.

Demand exists for Business Analysts with business partnering skills. With fewer resources available, hiring managers are looking for candidates who will add more value to their business.

In terms of candidate trends, people have become more loyal and there are fewer people leaving contracts early. With no foreseeable end to the contracting cycle in federal government, candidates are willing to give up benefits in order to secure long-term and permanent placements.

Given the focus on contract roles, we’ve seen cases of candidates quitting permanent jobs in order to take a contract that offers more variety or gives them the opportunity to leave their section.

There continues to be many senior candidates in the market after redundancy from government roles. Many charities and smaller not for profit organisations will benefit from their senior background but they offer lower salaries.


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