Addressing the So-Called ‘Digital Skills Gap’ in Accountancy

May 30, 2022

A greater reliance on technology and digital platforms are commonplace across many industries, including accountancy. The race to adapt processes means that firms seek to become more innovative while staying ahead of their competitors.

But even if your firm isn't at the forefront of digital accounting, can you afford not to encourage those skills? Many businesses struggle to keep up with the rate of change, leading to a 'digital skills gap.'

What Is the 'Digital Skills Gap'?

For many businesses, changes in processes central to the company can take time to implement and maintain. That often means that many fall behind the rate of change within their industries.

Additionally, as populations are ageing within western countries, the retirement age also increases. With older people in their jobs longer, it can mean that they are reluctant to adapt to new ways of working.

Many industries also struggle to encourage young people to pursue certain occupations, which means they miss out on the most technology-savvy generation. So solutions to address the skills gap must answer those critical issues and put your organisation in a position to stay ahead.

Consequences for Your Firm

If your business doesn't address the digital accounting skills gaps, it could harm your firm. You can fall behind your competitors and lose out on potential clients who seek the services that others can provide.

Increased digital skills mean that firms can communicate better with their clients through more channels. Additionally, clients may have complex needs, which could be time-consuming and complicated without introducing advanced software.

Ultimately, if your firm struggles to provide the skills accountants need, you could also risk a higher staff turnover. Your accountants may seek to join new firms that are more likely to invest in their future and help them to develop their skills.

A firm that fails to prepare for its future might struggle with longevity and may not benefit from significant growth as a business. With fewer skills to offer clients, there could be fewer reasons for new ones to choose you for their accounting.

Address the Digital Accounting Skills Gap

To take a proactive approach to solve your firm's digital accounting skills gap, you can take on a few changes. If you implement these successfully, you may find that they create a new dynamic within your business that centres on the importance of continual learning.

Culture of Change

Businesses within the tech industries understand rapid change well. They are at the forefront of not only what they do but also they proactively observe others. A significant advantage to any company is awareness, and if you know what's happening within your industry, you're more likely to know when to change.

One way to do that is to follow a great source of accounting news like INAA and constantly research competing firms. Understand the services that others offer, and make sure you can adapt to follow with your own.

A culture geared towards change within your organisation means that it's not afraid to quickly move away from old processes. If the firm doesn't shy away from new challenges and refuses to hold onto past ways of doing things, then it's set to create a workplace that thrives on digital change.

Offer Incentives to Accountants

Your current accountants must understand the modern skills accountants need, and that might mean that you find ways to encourage their continued training. One avenue could be to bring them into the decision process and listen to what areas are likely to interest each person.

It isn't easy to train every employee on each new program. But if you tailor the approach towards their own goals, it might mean you have a skilled workforce across different disciplines. Aside from the benefit of increasing the variety of services your firm can offer, workers are likely to be motivated by feeling as though you value their progression.

There may also be different incentives that you can offer your accountants who complete digital accounting skills courses, like gift cards or extra holidays. 

Digital Leadership and Partnerships

As a leader within your firm, it's also your responsibility to set an example for the benefits of what digital skills can offer. So it could mean that you lead workshops and training sessions or seek partnerships with companies that can provide them.

Different course providers can offer in-person or remote learning for you and your business. In the UK, the government provides a Digital Skills Partnership that can help to improve your organisation's capabilities.

Finding New Talent

Another major route toward a firm that houses the vital digital skills accountants need is encouraging young people to take on the profession. It can mean that the generation of digital natives who actively adopt new technologies can offer their skills to your organisation.

The introduction of new talent also allows them to help teach older colleagues about digital practices. But the first step is to find ways to encourage people to take on a career in accounting and then position your firm as somewhere they should want to work.

Your firm could partner with colleges and universities to speak to young people about the benefits of accounting and how their digital skills could make them a perfect fit. You can also offer to put on workshops and take on paid internships.

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Here at INAA, we connect accounting firms who aim to deliver quality professional services around a shared vision to make global business personal, and take personal business global. 

With every industry change, our collaborative association of international businesses is committed to driving the conversation around auditing and accounting.

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