Switzerland’s looming skills shortage Part 2

by | Oct 10, 2018 | 1 comment

How the digitalization of accounting can help


In July 2018, there were over 30,000 vacancies in Switzerland according to the Staatssekretariat fϋr Wirtschaft[1] (SECO), the Swiss government body responsible for monitoring and developing economic and labour market policy.
And as I outlined in my previous blog the growing shortage of skilled workers, particularly fiduciaries[2], is part of a national trend. And that begs the question; what can we do to address this?
The good news is that digitalization offers great opportunities for businesses to streamline and automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks and thus reduce the need for a large workforce. And, looking specifically at accountancy processes, we already have widely available and highly sophisticated software programs that can automate such tasks while delivering the outstanding level of accuracy that businesses demand.
So, does digitalization signal the end of the traditional fiduciary? Having spent many years working in the finance sector I have seen time and time again that fast, reliable and precise accountancy processes are crucial to a business’s success. Programs that can replicate this level of speed and accuracy, or indeed enhance it, could therefore be viewed as a threat.
On the plus side, the fact that the role of the fiduciary is already moving away from simply undertaking lengthy due diligence work and complex calculations means there is now the potential to transform the role into a more attractive consulting and supervisory function. This, in turn, may help address the skills shortage as the role becomes more enticing for the next generation of fiduciaries, who can see that they have the freedom to focus on areas such as providing advice and engaging with clients.
However, before we rush to hand over all responsibility to a computer we must also recognize that we will still need the human touch to supervise these programs and evaluate the results. And all the evidence suggests that this new role can be filled capably by the new generation. They will have grown up in the digital world and understand how best to harness the power of technology.  And, as evidenced by the fact that, for example, business administration is one of the most popular courses at the University of Zurich, there appears to be a real appetite among the next generation to take on more varied and challenging roles. Therefore, companies would do well to plan ways to engage the talents of the next generation and create the work environment they need to succeed.
The benefits delivered by the digital revolution might help companies overcome the skills shortage, at least in part. Yet competition for the brightest and best will undoubtedly increase. But businesses that are flexible and willing to adapt to technical advances will gain a distinct competitive advantage. In short, the winners will act now, leaving their competitors wondering what happened.
[1] https://www.seco.admin.ch/seco/de/home/seco/nsb-news.msg-id-71769.html

[2] https://www.stellenmarktmonitor.uzh.ch/de/indices/fachkraeftemangel.html

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