Covid-19 will worsen shortage of accountants, says CPA Ireland

Dual pressures of recession and lack of training options compounding shortfall

Ireland will struggle with a shortage of qualified accountants within the next few years unless there is an increased uptake of remote training across the sector, according to professional body CPA Ireland.

This shortage could have a profound impact on the wider economy if it is not addressed, in part because it will exacerbate an existing shortfall of almost 15,000 trainee accountants, it warned.

"During the last recession the number of trainee accountants fell off a cliff and this number has never fully recovered. The decade from 2008 witnessed the number of new accountancy students fall by 27 per cent," said CPA Ireland president John Devaney.

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“Accountancy remains on the critical skills list, and employers continue to struggle to source qualified accountants. We now face the dual pressures of recession and a lack of training options which will confound the issue into a major problem.”


He said CPA Ireland has more than 5,000 members advising more than 100,000 Irish small and medium-sized enterprises.

“As we emerge from this crisis accountants are needed in practically every business to provide strategic advice and aid recoveries across all sectors. Therefore a shortage of accountants could seriously undermine future economic growth.”

A recent survey of CPA Ireland members found that the Covid-19 restrictions were undermining the ability to train accountants. The survey found that 55 per cent believe remote working will have an impact on the recruitment of trainees over the next year.

“Our message to all accounting firms is that the future of their industry requires their time and efforts in continuing trainee programmes. It is not an option that can wait for Covid to go away,” Mr Devaney said.

“I recognise that almost seven in 10 find it difficult to supervise trainees remotely, but we have no choice as an industry but to try.”

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics