Audit – Rodger Hughes.

Accountancy firms are generally facing tough times in the recruitment marketplace. Graduate expectations and mobility have never been higher.

Competition for talented staff is intense. And the focus on life enhancement has redefined the hierarchy of personal needs.

Audit practices know this better than most. The dotcom frenzy may have died down but it has left a legacy and we all need to reassess our attractions for top graduates. If we want the best, we must change the way we do things.

The good news is that audit remains the best broad-based business training available – and the larger the organisation, the wider the exposure to a cross-section of industry sectors and financial specialisms.

An accountancy qualification is, more than ever, a passport to international business know-how. For example, during the aforementioned dotcom frenzy we sent 20 people to San Jose in Silicon Valley to help our American colleagues cope with demand.

The challenge is to ensure that graduates identify our profession with heightened career potential. Recognising this, firms are placing an increasing emphasis on skills and knowledge development in a collegiate atmosphere.

At my firm, we are investigating how the traditional resourcing model can be modified, by varying the way we recruit. We have just launched a new four-year degree, in association with the ICAEW, at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This groundbreaking course includes paid work placements as an integral part of the syllabus.

Forward-looking audit firms have embraced fluidity – changing working patterns are here to stay, and we need to predict and cater for societal change.

This requires investing in the flexibility that technology brings to the workplace, as well as developing new rewards packages and working routines for employees.

High-speed information flows and the global economy mean that we must learn the strategic logic of ‘unlearning’.

There is really not much point in recruiting new people, only to push them into the old way of doing things. New blood must be allowed to flow through the organisation, or the result is atrophy.

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