Councillors Discuss ‘Critical’ Shortages In Finance Department

town hall windows signAdvertising for “nearly qualified” accountants to join the Council’s overstretched Finance team could be sending out the wrong message to the community.

That’s the view expressed by Cllr Gordon Bilsborough during a discussion at last week’s Finance meeting on how the department was struggling to recruit staff.

Gordon also felt that offering the senior roles at the pay scale of grade 6, which is between £31,000 and £34,000 annually, meant they were not going to have “a rush of suitable applicants.”

“That is the real world,” said Gordon.

Head of Finance Ben Barrett told members that the two roles are “critical” and “very much needed” and this was the third time the Council had tried to recruit, so far without success.

Recently some members have not had financial papers and information provided for all their meetings because of the shortage of staff in the department.

Ben said the Council had a “grow your own policy,” where workers could be trained to higher roles in house.

And he said they already had some staff with significant experience as well as the opportunity for people on the mainland in a similar role, but who haven’t fully qualified yet, to take up the positions.

Ben says the interview process was designed to weed out applicants without the relevant skills and they “don’t need to fill seats with the first person who comes along.”

Cllr Richard McCarthy supported the approach and used the analogy of junior doctors, who he said aren’t yet consultants but occupy a key role in the health service.

“Someone can be an almost-qualified accountant and be doing a darn good job,” said Richard.

And Cllr Robert Dorrien Smith pointed out that it’s “not unheard of in business” for accountants to train in post and to acquire their qualifications as they go.

Robert also asked about new software that could reduce the workload on the Finance team.

Ben said they’d started the purchasing process and it should be complete with the next 18 months.

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