Accountants in battle to recruit Scots staff

ACCOUNTANCY firms are facing a fierce battle for staff in Scotland as both Deloitte and "big four" rival Ernst & Young look to swell their numbers north of the Border.

Ian Steele, Scottish senior partner at Deloitte, said the firm expects to increase its 740-strong workforce in Scotland and Northern Ireland by 10 per cent this year as it chases growth of 10-15 per cent.

This will include qualified accountants and advisers as well as graduates as it expands its training scheme over the next three years.

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The revelation comes after Ernst & Young unveiled plans to create 140 jobs north of the Border by 2013 as it sets up a separate business consultancy unit.

Hywel Ball, Scottish managing partner for E&Y, also told Scotland on Sunday that as part of this three-year plan, the firm will double the size of its graduate scheme.

Next September E&Y expects to take on 75 university leavers north of the Border. It normally recruits 30 to 40.

Ball said competition for staff and trainees is fierce as a number of consultancy firms build up their ranks in the expectation that there will be a lot of advisory work in areas such as public sector, financial services and energy.

He said: "Cost reduction still provides a major opportunity at the moment - looking at procurement and re-engineering businesses. We still an appetite for that type of service in the private sector."

The jobs boost in the accountancy sector will come as a welcome boost as unemployment in the rest of the economy continues to grow.