You might have been looking for accounting graduates, but you realise they are hard to find. Why is this, and what can you do about it?

Not enough students are choosing to major in accounting

You may think that the low number of accounting students stems from a lack of interest, but it’s more likely that they need to learn what accountants do. Accounting is not a popular major anymore. According to the Ministry of Education data, only about 20% of university undergrads choose to study accounting instead of other business-related majors such as marketing or management. This is partly because many people believe that you need a degree in accounting to become an accountant, which is different. There are also bachelor’s degrees in business administration or finance with specialisations in accounting.

Also, many high school students need to be made aware of the opportunities available for them after graduation if they pursue an undergraduate degree in accounting: about half work full-time within three months after graduation, and 35% start their own businesses within five years!

Why students don’t choose accounting?

There are many reasons for choosing something other than accounting. Some of these include:

  • They think accounting is boring
  • They think accountants are boring
  • They think accounting is too hard or not worth the effort needed to do well in it
  • They think there is no work-life balance
  • They think salaries are higher in other professions
  • They think it’s a dying industry

How to attract more students to the profession

  • Market to students
  • Social media is key here, as it has become the primary means of communication for young people today. TikTok, Snapchat, Youtube or Instagram are better platforms to show off your company culture and employer brand. Pew found the share of 13 to 17-year-olds who said they use Facebook dropped from 71% in their 2015 study to 32% today.
  • University fairs and campus recruiting are also effective ways to attract students who have expressed interest in accounting or financial services fields.
  • Reach out to high school students who may not be considering a career in accounting just yet but could be convinced that it’s an attractive field once they see what the job market looks like these days.
  • Recruit from other majors like economics, computer science or finance—especially if you can offer them an internship or summer internship during their first year of university that will give them a taste of what it’s really like being an accountant (and help them decide whether they want more).
  • Think about which members of your firm would be most effective at engaging accounting graduates. Most of those graduating from tertiary education are Gen Z born between 1996 and 2012. Forbes says Gen Z will account for 27% of the workforce by 2025. So you need people and recruitment methods that resonate with them.

What new accounting graduates want from work

When it comes to the new generation, what are the most common professional priorities?

  • A solid career trajectory
    Accounting graduates are ready to kickstart their careers. A firm that offers learning & development opportunities will have a competitive edge over its competitors.
  • Work-life balance
    Ten years ago, the working environment was a hot topic. Standing desks, pot plants, and free smoothies were all the rage, but Gen Z isn’t worried about them as much. Gen Zers aren’t just looking for a paycheque – they’re looking for fulfilment and happiness at work. So, for example, they should be able to take advantage of the generous time off policies, reasonable clock-out times, and opportunities that allow them to pursue passions outside of work while advancing in their careers.
  • Mental health support
    A workplace culture that supports mental health is far from a ‘nice to have for Gen Z. It’s an expectation. Forbes reported that a study showed 82% of Gen Zers expect their employer to provide mental health tools or strategies. Whether that’s something like an Employee Assistance Program or providing mental health leave – show your commitment to mental and emotional well-being to attract graduate applicants.
  • A focus on office culture
    For Gen Z, a job isn’t just about the paycheque; it’s also a chance to find meaning. Gen Z workers say that people and company culture are their number one priority when considering whether or not they want new employment opportunities.

Accounting is a strong career choice, but we need more university students to choose it as a major

Accounting is an excellent career choice. We need more university students to choose it as a major. That’s easier said than done. In the past couple of decades, accounting programs have struggled to attract students—and that’s not entirely due to a lack of interest. Although many people associate accounting with boring office work, there are many jobs in accounting that can be exciting and rewarding.

So how do you convince students that accounting is a great career choice? By showing them the many different kinds of jobs available. The truth is, there are many opportunities for those interested in accounting—and many of them don’t require a four-year university degree.

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