Do skills need boosting in internal audit?
Many companies looking to take on internal auditors have expressed concern about a lack of appropriately skilled applicants and this raises questions about whether this could be having a long-term impact on the sector.
Recent months have seen an upsurge in demand for internal auditors, but this appears to have highlighted a shortage in the right candidate.
Many heads of audit have raised concerns that there are too many internal auditors in the job market who do not have the necessary skills – often leading to a loss of time interviewing unsuitable applicants.
At the end of last year, a key business figure raised concerns about the country’s skills shortage holding back the UK economic recovery.
Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), explained that the body’s members had raised a concern over a whole host of sectors and a shortage of qualified staff.
He explained that in 2013 there had been nine areas of skills shortages but this has now increased to 43 areas.
“Every single type of engineering is in short supply, from mechanical to software, civil to electrical,” said Mr Green.
“In IT, coders, programmers, developers are all in short supply; there’s a shortage of doctors and nurses in the National Health Service; and we need about 20,000 more teachers in the UK.
“And the situation’s been getting worse month-on-month over the last 18 months,” he added.
This rather bleak picture was also backed up by the CBI, which showed sectors that require specialised knowledge are suffering from a real lack of qualified employees.
“Our most recent survey shows that skills shortages are becoming more acute, and risk acting as a break on our economic recovery,” explained Rob Wall, the CBI’s head of employment and education.
“This is particularly true for high-level skills in sectors like engineering, technology, digital, manufacturing and construction.”
It has been a long-term concern for the government that the UK is lacking staff with skills in the vital Stem subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths.
According to CBI research, nearly 40 per cent of firms hoping to recruit staff with Stem skills have had difficulty finding the right staff, with many companies expressing concern the situation will continue to worsen.
So how can employers tackle a skills shortage in their industry?
A report entitled Growth Through People produced the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) recently identified a number of ways that companies can ensure staff develop the right qualifications and experience.
The advice included the creation of more apprenticeships, supporting vocational pathways to work, a greater focus on improving skill levels, increased integration between work and education and encouraging work experience to be a fundamental part of education.
“The system to date has been about government deciding what skills are needed rather than employers,” stressed Mr Wall of the CBI.
“We want to see a system that is simpler and that puts employers in the driving seat.”
This trend towards developing in-house skills can be seen in the internal audit sector, with the Big 4 taking steps to ensure they protect the staff they have trained via their graduate schemes – preferring to nurture talent from within.