Feb 2022

Australia Is Losing Talent Abroad, and It’s SMEs Who Are Suffering Most

By: Odyssey General, Outsourcing
Tags: labour shortage, Post-COVID

In the report released mid-December by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it was revealed that the impact of COVID on overseas migration resulted in a net loss of 88,800 people in 2020-21 (comparing to a net gain of 241,300 people during 2018-2019 pre-pandemic).

Australia is under the first phase of reopening. In this phase, allowing Australians to enter/leave the country takes precedence over allowing foreign visitors (tourists, seasonal workers and students) to enter.

In light of this policy, more Australians have been quick to leave the country to travel, work abroad, visiting friends and families after the 20-month ban. Meanwhile, people who have been wanting to get back to Australia, like international students and workers, remain on the waiting list.

On a side note, the government has been slow to grant permanent residency to many skilled migrants and graduates. These visa holders, who are currently living in Australia since the start of the pandemic, haven’t been able to see their friends and families because if they leave, it is near impossible for them to return. Many have become discouraged as a result of this, and some are considering leaving Australia for good.

All of this has contributed to exacerbate the Australia’s labour crisis.

War for talent among Australian accounting firms

Recruiting local talent has never been more difficult. In fact, 77 of the AFR Top 100 Accounting firms reported that they are having trouble recruiting and retaining staff. Though firms have been improving working conditions like offering flexible working model and automating some repetitive work, not many success in retain current staff and hire new staff.

Understanding the current demand – supply situation, Australian-based accounting staff are seeking better opportunity and higher pay from switching jobs hence making the staffing costs increased. Larger firms, responding to these changes, have been offering well above market pay and better benefit packages to gain a competitive advantage in this war for talent. That said, mid-tier and small accounting firms are the most disadvantaged in this war given that they cannot compete with larger firms on pay.  

Staff shortage is forecasted to be around for the next three to five years. If this is true, small and medium accounting firms won’t be able to sustain their business that long if they continue to rely on the current staffing process and hiring local talents. If firms want to increase capacity while maintaining a reasonable cost, maybe now is a good time to start looking at outsourcing!

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