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It’s a sign of the times that, whilst the latest figures show a slight reduction in unemployment, the figure itself remains high at around 2.47 million, and so the job market is still flooded with candidates. That may well be the case, but Caroline Naylor, partner at Sheffield’s specialist financial recruitment consultants CRA Financial, says that it still remains difficult to find skilled individuals for her clients, who are crying out for well qualified accountants with the right experience.

“The conundrum is” says Caroline, “that whilst there are plenty of people on the market, there is definitely an imbalance of skills at the moment. Demand for accountancy and finance staff remains high, but talent shortages are definitely the problem, and as I work closely with many of the top financial employers in the region, I think supply and demand is going to be a continuing challenge.

It is interesting to note that around 50% of FTSE 100 business leaders have financial backgrounds - good accountants really are in demand, but, paradoxically, at a time when more and more businesses seem to be cutting back on recruitment, finding and keeping good financial people is getting harder. This is fuelled partly by the fact that the climate is inducing talented people to stay put – almost a “better the devil you know” situation. I also wonder how much emphasis schools and colleges are putting on the value of professional qualifications such as accountancy. The latest ‘A’ level results certainly show that whilst there was yet another increase in the pass rate this year, business studies has become less popular.

We find that many employers are looking for skills in addition to pure accounting, not a jack of all trades, but added value skills such as commerciality - a hot skill at the moment - and the ability to build loyalty amongst clients, and we look for those in our candidates too. At CRA we don’t just pick our candidates from the internet and forward them to recruiters, we listen to what our clients need and recommend people from our powerful database of screened and interviewed individuals.”

Caroline can be contacted at CRA Financial on 0114 241 8030, email