Only 16% of organisations that took part in the survey said they experienced problems filling their accountancy vacancies, compared to the last survey in October 2000 when accountancy was identified as the top skills shortage in Britain.
In the professional services sector as a whole, however, more than three-quarters of organisations questioned said they had difficulties in filling vacancies, the highest recorded rate of any of the sectors surveyed.
Other industry sectors, which experienced skills shortages, included manufacturing with 68% of companies reporting shortages, followed by the distribution/wholesale sector with 64% and the public sector with 62%.
Sarah Parsons, head of communications at Reed, told AccountancyAge.comthat one reason for this improvement was that companies were doing a lot more to improve the packages they offered accounting candidates.
‘This has made it easier to attract the right kind of candidates,’ she said.
Parsons added: ‘Companies have begun offering packages that go beyond the standard benefits and bonuses to include intrinsic rewards such as job satisfaction, a better work environment and more flexible working conditions.’
The most acute staff shortages were reported in technical and engineering positions, with one in five companies experiencing problems filling these positions.
The hardest hit geographical area was the Thames Valley, where skills shortages rose to 82% compared to 78% in the last survey. Others regions to experience difficulties included Northern Ireland and East Anglia at 82% and 80% respectively, with more than half of organisations reporting skills shortages across the rest of the UK.
Chief executive of Reed, James Reed, commented: ‘Skills shortages are now the number one concern of business leaders. Successful companies are increasingly committed to training and succession planning, but they must be imaginative in their use of recruitment techniques and staff retention policies if they are to bridge the gap.’He added that the government had a role to play by bringing in unemployed people into the workforce, loosening the labour market regulations and creating a flexible labour market where talent was ‘both mobile and well rewarded.’
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