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Accountancy & Finance - Public Sector

October - December 2015

Many public sector departments across Australia continue to recruit on a temporary and fixed-term basis. Temporary assignments are increasing as employers bring on additional accountancy and finance staff to create models, review performance, control budgets and respond to reforms.

In addition, some government departments are now consolidating roles and making their temporaries permanent members of staff. Government departments look for candidates with previous system knowledge and government experience.

Permanent recruitment restrictions are easing in the federal government. In Canberra we are therefore seeing less reliance on contractors for business-as-usual work and more permanent hires. That’s not to say contract roles will fall; a steady flow of contract requirements will remain as the government delivers key projects before the next election.

In the not-for-profit sector, some new roles are being created while employers are also replacing departing staff. In this sector, soft skills are very important and employers look for a candidate who will fit the existing team and is the right cultural fit.

In the aged care and education sectors vacancy activity has increased. Candidates with specific industry experience are highly sort after, especially for management reporting roles.

In the Northern Territory the centralisation of finance interstate and restructures are fuelling demand for temporary support as well as for multi-skilled professionals who can take on varied duties in a smaller local team.

When they recruit, employers often believe there is a high volume of good candidates available, but the reality is very different. As a result, employers need to revise their expectations, especially when recruiting for short-term roles.

Another trend is the focus from employers on candidates’ soft skills, especially relationship management and a team-focused attitude. Like-for-like system skills are also valued over industry exposure.

Skills in demand

In terms of skills in demand for the October to December 2015 quarter, we’re seeing high demand for Business Analysts to control budgets, keep on top of forecasts and report performance.

Management Accountants are sought to build an annual budget. The demand for these roles should last until the end of the calendar year.

Business Analysts or Business Partner Specialists are sought. Employers look for accountants who can team up with divisions and add real value. Business Analysts are also needed to project manage improvements and write commentary that interprets the figures.

System Accountants are sought to improve operational efficiency through technological upgrades. System Accountants with experience with specific ERPs and FMIS are in greatest demand.

Internal Budget Accountants are another area of demand. Candidates with corporate internal budgets experience play a pivotal role in managing departmental budgets. Candidates need strong interpersonal skills coupled with good technical capability.

External Budget Accountants possess skills and systems experience unique to Federal Government. Coupled with specific systems skills, external budgets candidates need strong written communications skills, which are not common in accountants.

Project Accountants are needed too given Federal Government spending on projects, which is increasing the demand for experienced project accountants to report on spend and advise project managers on a day-to-day basis.

Financial Accountants are sought. Given changes to accounting standards and an increased focus on compliance, these candidates will remain in high demand.

Financial Accountants are also sought in the not-for-profit sector in order to deliver improved financial controls and process reviews.

Commercial Analysts/Pricing Analysts are needed in the not-for-profit sector too in response to reform changes within the community care sector. Temporary candidates are sought to review pricing strategies and benchmarking.

Accounts Clerks, both payables and receivables, are needed to assist with processing.

Experienced Accounts Payable Officers are sought to assist with backlogs of work, while analytical Accounts Receivable Officers with complex reconciliations experience are sought. However there is a shortage of candidates who are immediately available for short-term contracts and who want to remain in these roles long-term.

Bookkeepers are also sought in the not-for-profit sector. Employers want candidates with experience using MYOB or XERO.

Multi-skilled accounting support candidates are needed in organisations that are downsizing or centralising finance. Employers in this situation look for multi-skilled candidates who are flexible and willing to take on additional administration duties as well as finance.

End-to-end Payroll Officers are sought. Candidates who have solely focused on the area of payroll and are experts in this area are in short supply. Employers look for candidates who want to remain in this role long-term.

Candidate trends

In terms of candidate trends, the number of quality jobseekers who are immediately available and looking for their next role has reduced. Strong candidates are not actively looking, and employers therefore need to focus on their attraction strategy in order to entice top talent. This is true of metropolitan cities as well as regional centres.

When looking for their next role, candidates seek progression, higher salaries and a good working environment. The majority of candidates have been in their current role for a long period of time and are therefore now looking for a new challenge.

Candidates are also adding more specific detail to their CV to better reflect systems experience. They are ensuring their CV does not contain superfluous information and is detailed, relevant and to the point. For more CV advice please visit the career advice page of our website.


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