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Accountancy & Finance - Public Sector

July – September 2016


Temporary roles remain the focus for most employers, with six-month contracts even preferred over longer-term temporary assignments. This is especially the case in the government sector, with the flexibility of a temporary workforce used to fill gaps in business-as-usual roles and for long-term projects.

The exception is the education sector where candidates are offered longer contracts, usually 12 months, although employers still prefer to trial a candidate before offering such a contract.

We have also seen more permanent activity in the not-for-profit sector with strategic plans and budgets now in place.

Now that we are in a new financial year, we expect to see more permanent vacancies as public sector organisations sign off on these roles once more.

When they recruit, fit and soft skills remain the highest priority of hiring managers. Within the government sector employers want candidates with previous government experience since many roles are offered on a three to six month basis and thus require someone who can hit the ground running. In the not-for-profit sector there is still a preference for candidates with not-for-profit experience although this is starting to change.

While the volume of candidates applying is still high the quality has dropped and strong candidates with sector specific experience are now in short supply.

Hotspots of demand

Skill shortages still exist for qualified Financial Accountants who can work independently and complete ad hoc projects relating to compliance.

Management Accountants with technical accounting and soft skills are sought to streamline and improve business processes.

Federal Government Management Accountants with external budgets experience are also needed to report on the budget position to the Department of Finance. This skill is in short supply.

With the move to Shared Service platforms, Technology One System Accountants are in demand. As the Government improves back house technology, System Accountants will play a pivotal role in identifying efficiencies and improving processes moving forward.

Financial Operations Accountants are another area of need. Historically unqualified Supervisors have run accounts teams, however employers now look for qualified Financial Operations Accountants to ensure that accounting standards are followed.

Finance Managers are also sought. Employers want well-rounded candidates who possess technical skills and have experience driving teams. In addition, some small businesses that are expanding or maturing are replacing an Accountant or Bookkeeper with a Finance Manager.

The shortage of Payroll experienced candidates remains.

Finally, business partnering skills are required in order to work across the organisation and achieve cohesion.

Candidate trends

Candidates are open to moving interstate for opportunities, especially those who are currently in Perth. The top candidates are starting to receive multiple offers, and those in demand are focused on securing a longer-term role following a few years of temporary assignments.

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