We all know outsourcing is big these days — accounting firms might be sending a third of their work overseas and some seniors are overseeing an entire team of offshore associates — but what about insourcing? Oh wait, that means something different. We’re talking about talent-strapped Big 4 firms bringing the offshore talent to them.
Our favorite Aussie professional services expert Edmund Tadros at Australian Financial Review has written about Deloitte and EY bringing more than 800 warm bodies into the country to staff areas like audit and cybersecurity where talent is scarce. Let’s see what he said.
The firms have welcomed the changes to the visa system proposed by the federal government last week aimed at simplifying and speeding up the process, even though recruitment and immigration experts warn it could lead to more ‘job hopping’ by sponsored workers.
“We have hired 447 employees from overseas in the past year,” said Tina McCreery, Deloitte’s chief human resources officer.
”Of these, 195 were from other Deloitte member firms and 252 were external. In addition to this, we had 207 employees spend time with us on short-term secondments from overseas Deloitte member firms.”
Ms McCreery said the firm hires globally when it cannot find specific skills in Australia.
“We go overseas to hire talent which is not readily available onshore in hot skill/high-demand areas such as audit, cyber [security], technology-based professions.”
I appreciate Edmund adding [security] in brackets to “cyber” because I’m old and that word means something completely different to me as a child of 90s AOL chatrooms.
Australia is evidently suffering from “the West’s second-worst employee shortage after Canada” due in part to severe Covid-19 restrictions that put its borders under lock and key, keeping out not only the virus but the many skilled migrants the country is in search of. On the government’s list of nearly 100 in-demand occupations are accountants (specifically general accountants, tax accountants, and management accountants), auditors (internal and external), corporate treasurers, actuaries, economists, and management consultants. We’re just gonna go ahead and leave the accountant listing here for anyone here in ‘Murica looking to make a break for it.
Linda Rowe, Asia Pacific Global Immigration Lead at EY, totally supports a redesign of skilled immigration that would mean getting away from the occupation list and focusing instead on in-demand skills. “The move away from occupation lists to evidenced based assessments of skills is long overdue,” she said. “These new foundations will be designed to strategically focus on attracting skills and integrating migration policy with labour market strategy and the training and education system.” A good example of why the system needs to change is the fact that “data analyst” doesn’t appear anywhere on the list. In the U.S., 42.7% of new hires at accounting firms do not have accounting degrees, and even that number is based on data lagging a few years behind from current day. Safe to say accounting firms are fighting each other for any skilled data analysts they can get their hands on.
“In the last 12 months we have hired 360 people from international markets, and more than 200 of these were employed by EY member firms around the globe before joining EY Australia,” said Rowe. “More than 60 per cent of these international hires were for our Assurance practice.” [Note: we have similar auditor demand over here where 66% of accounting graduates are put in audit as new hires.] EY is facing pretty much the same problems everyone else is with too much work and not enough skilled talent, she said in not those exact words.
The government argues Australia’s most important methods to bring necessary and skilled workers are mired in bureaucratic problems.
For example, the occupation codes used on the back-end of Australia’s migration, tax and other systems have not been added to since 2013.
There are jobs in Australia today facing labour shortages that did not exist when the code was last updated.
The minister wants to do away with those “outdated, inflexible” lists, and instead give Jobs and Skills Australia the authority to determine what occupations are in need.
Question is where are firms finding this spare talent? Don’t the member firms they’re getting people from need them too?
Deloitte, EY sponsor 800+ overseas workers amid skills shortage [AFR]