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More accounting grads than ever. Anyone hiring?

More accounting grads than ever. Anyone hiring?

Accounting’s staffing crisis may be nearing its end.

Finding and keeping talented CPAs has been an ongoing concern in recent years. This year, for instance, staffing was among the top 10 concerns for firms with two to 20 professionals, according to the AICPA’s 2009 CPA Firm Top Issues Survey.

That could be about to change.

A new report from the AICPA shows that more than 66,000 students earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting last year. That’s the highest level since the AICPA began tracking the data in 1972 and 3.5 percent higher than the previous record set in 2006-07.

“The historic growth of accounting degrees is especially significant now because it coincides with the CPA profession’s programs and efforts to attract young talent,” said Jeannie Patton, the AICPA’s vice president for students, academics and membership. “Students clearly recognize the attractiveness of accounting as a rewarding and fulfilling career path.”

The question now is, will they find jobs?

As the economy tanked, so did hiring. Rick Telberg reports that total demand for new accounting graduates fell from 36,112 in 2007 to 25,488 recruits in 2008, although demand is up among mid-size and large regional CPA firms.

Still, the economy will turn around sometime — some are saying sooner rather than later — and it’s comforting to know the talent will be there when it does.

That could bring on a whole set of problems, though. A report from Deloitte finds that 65 percent of executives fear losing some of their top talent once the recession ends. The reason? “(V)oluntary turnover (will rise) with leaders and workers with critical skills seeking new opportunities,” said Jeff Schwartz, principal, Human Capital, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Sounds like a good time to review our retention strategies … but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.