The United Kingdom faces a shortfall of 10,200 qualified accountants by 2050 due to skills shortages, an ageing workforce and restrictive migration policy, according to Randstad Financial and Professional, the specialist recruiter.
The UK workforce as a whole will have a deficit of 3.1m by 2050, a figure which represents 9% of the required workforce. Using employment rates from the most recent European population analysis from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, as a measure of demand, Randstad analysed the projected changes in UK population and working age rate for 2050 to establish the gap between employment demand and workforce supply.
The analysis showed that with a population of 74.5m, in 2050 the UK will require a workforce of 35.4m to meet demand. However, will a pool of just 45.1m people (60.5% of the population) forecast to the eligible to work in 2050, even if the employment rate matches pre-downturn levels of 71.6%, an ageing population will leave the UK with only 32.3m people in employment – 3.1m short of the 35.4m required to meet demand.
Despite the shortfall, the accountancy and finance sector is set to fare better than others. Qualified accountants represent 0.3% of the entire UK workforce , assuming this proportion remains constant, by 2050, the UK will have a deficit of 10,200 accountants. The education sector faces the biggest shortfall with the prospect of a deficit of 128,000 teachers by 2050.
Profession Projected Shortfall (2050)
Qualified Engineers 36,800
IT and Tech 33,300
Social Workers 10,600
Qualified Accountants 10,200
Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial and Professional, said: “If the UK economy is to grow and overcome the difficulties of the last few years then it requires a strong workforce capable of meeting demand. Our projections are conservative but they still portray a worrying scenario for the country over the coming decades. With an ageing population, we need to ensure we are open for business and welcoming talent from around the world to bolster our workforce. Unfortunately, with a stagnant economy and crippling work related migration policy, the UK represents a much less attractive option for both domestic and overseas talent.”
Migration is one of the key drivers of the skills shortage. Since 2007, work related emigration from the UK has risen 16% while work related immigration has fallen 24% over the same period. The combination of poor economic performance and changes to immigration policy have made the UK a less attractive place to work among the world’s most talented professionals. Over the last four years the proportion of highly skilled international candidates registering for work with Randstad Financial and Professional has fallen from 22% in 2008 to just 12% in 2012.
As accountancy firms fight to stop their top talent moving abroad, some salaries for niche roles have been forced up. Since 2006, average qualified accountancy salaries have grown 7.5% (£4,156) despite the tough economic climate . This growth outstrips that enjoyed by those at the top of the career ladder by some margin. Over the same period directors and chief executives of major organisations have only seen average salaries rise 1.3%.
Tara Ricks, said: “International markets are proving a tempting option for those working in accountancy and finance. Stronger economic performance in locations such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia is one thing, but combine this with a change in lifestyle and relatively low-tax and it’s little wonder so many are considering a move abroad.
“It is vital the UK remains one of the world’s primary places to build a career across all industries. The accountancy and finance sector looks set to suffer fewer skills shortages than others over the coming decades, but more must be done to ensure the top home-grown talent wants to remain in the UK and we have a migration policy which allows the best of the global skills base build their careers in the UK should they want to.
“The government has proved in the appointment of Mark Carney as the next Governor of the Bank of England that sometimes the best candidates are from overseas. We must ensure this approach is allowed to run smoothly across the entire workforce, not just at the very top. ”