Gillian will play the numbers game as skills shortage bites

Attracting and retaining talent will be the top priority for new Chartered Accountants Ulster chair

New chair of accountancy body prioritises attracting and retaining talent
Gillian Sadlier, who was elected chair at the Chartered Accountants Ireland Ulster Society's 117th annual general meeting in Belfast. (Graham Baalham-Curry)

The new chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster says she will prioritise attracting and retaining talent for the profession during her term of office.

Gillian Sadlier, a senior manager with Bank of Ireland UK, was elected into the top role at the Chartered Accountants Ireland Ulster Society’s 117th annual general meeting in Belfast.

And she said she is committed to advancing measures to address the skills shortage impacting the profession in the north.

Analysis conducted for the Ulster Society found that three in five (61%) of member businesses /organisations are experiencing skill shortages in 2024 and 75% of respondents report increasing difficulty in finding the right people for jobs. A further 75% of members feel that the shortage of skilled labour will negatively impact the region’s economic performance in the coming year.

During her term, Ms Sadlier has committed to focusing on attracting and retaining talent into accountancy in Northern Ireland, so that the profession can continue to support economic growth and development.

A key part of this will include engaging with second and third level students and working closely with trainees and young professionals to support them through the early stages of their careers.

She said: “The skills shortage that is affecting so many companies threatens our ability to realise this economic potential.

“Our member survey lays bare the fear that this shortage will negatively impact Northern Ireland’s economic performance in the coming year.

“The restoration of the Executive is a cause for optimism, and skills and education should be front of mind for our elected representatives alongside other key priorities.”

Ms Sadlier added: “My focus in the coming months will be on promoting Chartered Accountancy as a profession and on the development of people and personal skills to complement the technical training that is fundamental to our role.

“I want to show potential new entrants to the profession just how varied and full of opportunity a career in accountancy can be and to demonstrate the reality that being a chartered accountant genuinely allows you to become a ‘difference maker’.”

The Ulster Society represents more than 5,000 local chartered accountants and is a district society of Chartered Accountants Ireland, the largest and oldest professional accountancy body on the island of Ireland.

Ms Sadlier joined Bank of Ireland over a decade ago, having spent seven years working on Invest NI’s corporate finance team. She previously spent 14 years in practice working with ASM Chartered Accountants and Coopers & Lybrand.

She has served on the committee of the Ulster Society for more than eight years.