The accounting talent shortage in Ohio is at a critical point and, requires a bold, all-hands-on-deck approach to resolve, according to The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA). As one of the nation’s leading accounting associations, OSCPA is advancing the profession by leading the charge to reverse the scarcity of accounting talent.
At its recent Workforce Development Summit in Columbus, OSCPA convened influential leaders from across the state to begin forming an engaged coalition that will work to transform the talent pipeline. Representing more than 50 organizations from the business, academic, non-profit, and government sectors, the group dissected the scope of the accounting talent deficit and outlined steps needed to reverse the trend.
OSCPA analyzed data from the Accountancy Board of Ohio and found, that of Ohio’s registered CPAs, more than 45 percent are 60 years old or older, and nearly two-thirds are over age 50 – a preview of Ohio’s growing accountant shortage.
“We are at a pivotal moment in the accounting profession, and we all have to work on this with strategy and focus,” said Scott Wiley, CAE, OSCPA president and CEO. “Education, training, and quality of work are needed more now, and in different ways, than they ever were before.”
The five-point action plan, introduced by OSCPA’s Chief Learning Officer Tiffany Crosby, CPA, consists of identifying societal changes that affect the accounting profession, providing a set of reimagined CPA pathways and showcasing a dramatically different narrative aimed at attracting the next generation of professionals. Actionable steps to address the talent shortage include:
- Forming a coalition – OSCPA is in a unique position to bring together essential stakeholders to take collective action.
- Telling accounting’s story – Accounting’s story needs to be reframed as the language of business, a profession of opportunity, and one where future CPAs see themselves as key partners in empowering growth.
- Reviewing and revising curriculum – Accounting taps into a broad range of skills and engages in the issues most pressing to business. The current accounting education landscape can better reflect the actual work of accounting to provide students with meaningful experiences.
- Enhancing the work experience – To remain stable, the culture of work within the profession needs to reflect the changing demands of the current and incoming workforce. Accounting’s story needs to be well-lived, in addition to being well-told.
- Establishing multiple pathways – Accounting careers need to be more accessible to a broader audience, and there needs to be a change in how young professionals and untapped talent make their way into the accounting profession – both involve removing outed or unnecessarily onerous barriers.
“OSCPA is able to serve as a hub for alignment where there have previously been individual efforts,” said Crosby. “Harnessing the collective knowledge and resources of organizations already working to address talent gaps will accelerate our ability to address the talent deficit for the profession.”
Event panelist Mike Duffey, senior vice chancellor at the Ohio Department of Higher Education, noted that the employment market has changed for many industries, and strategies such as the one OSCPA has developed can help retain top-tier talent in Ohio.
“It is important to be forward-thinking on work-life balance, education and training,” Duffey said. “But it is also important to look back upon successful strategies from mid-century America: recruiting talent from within, training that talent for future jobs, and investing in deep and meaningful relationships with employees.”
While there is no “silver bullet” for resolving the talent shortage, OSCPA’s five-pillar plan is a comprehensive and actionable approach to address decades-old issues and drive real change.
“This is a complex conversation and an issue that will not be solved overnight,” Wiley said. “We need to ensure that the profession has the talent necessary to address the challenges and seize the opportunities of the future. We are positioning accountants and CPAs as Ohio’s most trusted business advisers. OSCPA has a role to play in changing the landscape, and we are looking forward to working with our impressive coalition to make an impact in Ohio.”