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Accountancy & Finance - Public Sector

April - June 2016

Projects, systems upgrades and massive restructures within public sector shared services have led to a significant increase in demand for skilled Payroll contractors for three to six month assignments.

Any permanent hiring usually starts with a temporary contract so public sector employers can test a candidate’s skill and culture fit before considering a longer tenure.

In the ACT, and with an election slated in 2016, there will be a push to deliver on projects while keeping within budget. We will also see permanent moves this quarter. There is no official recruitment freeze at the moment but departments have a cap on staffing levels, which will see an increase in temporary engagements.

In the Northern Territory we have seen a strong flow of jobs for accounting support professionals and more recently senior finance roles, but budgets overall remain tight. We continue to see a strong focus on temporary recruitment with definitive end dates.

In the Not-for-Profit (NFP) sector most recruitment is confined to replacement hiring.

Skills in demand

 Departmental restructures will continue to create candidate demand.

Payables, Reconciliations and Revenue professionals are in demand. Assistant Accountants and Finance Officers with cross-functional skills such as accounts payable, accounts receivable and reconciliations are also being sought.

Both Management Accountants and Budget Accountants are sought to help government departments through the budget process, especially where two or more departments have merged and are bedding down new processes.

As budgets have tightened, the role of finance is changing from a back office function to one that adds value to the wider organisation. As a result, strong Business Partnering skills are sought to help stakeholders understand finance operations.

In Canberra and with an election slated there will be a push to deliver projects while staying within budget. This will create demand for Project Accountants and contractors for short-term vacancies.

On the permanent side, this quarter is traditionally the time for permanent moves within the APS with demand for Financial and Management Accountants high.

Candidates with Federal Government security clearances are also in demand, as are those with specific systems experience such as SAP, Technology One, TM1 and CBMS.

Meanwhile Not-for-Profit and Non-Government Organisations (NFP/NGOs) are looking for skilled and experienced Bookkeepers but the salaries on offer are below what most experienced candidates expect.

In the Northern Territory, experienced Management Accountants and Financial Accountants are in short supply.

All-rounders who have a steady employment history and extensive experience in all areas of finance are in short supply in the NT. So too are candidates experienced in working for government or NFP/NGO organisations, especially those available for immediate start or temporary and lower salary paid roles.

In general, employers want dynamic candidates with good attitudes and the ability to pick up new systems and skills with ease.

Candidate trends

 Ideally, candidates want a higher paying role closer to home on a longer term contract, which is not easy to find in the current environment.

In the Northern Territory there is still a higher volume of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) with public service backgrounds than normal. Roles to suit CFOs are not available in the Territory and their seniority and salary expectation makes them unsuitable for other roles.

There are also a lot of international candidates available, but employers do not want to spend time training them in Australian principles and accounting software so are passing them over in favour of candidates with considerable local experience.

We are also seeing a mismatch in salary expectation amongst Finance Officers with candidates’ expectations $5,000 to $10,000 above what employers are willing to pay.

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