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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

CAREER FLASH

Unemployment rate bucks national trend


Battered by SARS, a strengthening dollar and weaker American demand, Ontario bucked a national trend in June as the unemployment rate rose to 7.3% from 7.1%.

The March 27 budget -- prepared before the full impact of SARS hit -- predicted unemployment levels in the 6.3% to 6.5% range for this year, along with average growth of 3.5% for this year.

Since March, Ontario has shed 10,000 jobs and seen its unemployment rate climb steadily from 6.5%.

Finance Minister Janet Ecker noted there were 17,000 new jobs created in June and the economy is showing signs of recovery.

"We've got an economy with strong fundamentals," Ecker said in an interview.

"(But) we know there are challenges there and we are taking the steps to deal with them."

Given that the economy has not performed as expected, the TD Bank is looking at revising its growth forecast downward yet again -- to perhaps under two per cent this year, said Derek Burleton, senior economist with TD.

Nationally, the unemployment rate edged downward to 7.7% from 7.8% in June.

Besides Ontario, only Manitoba among the provinces showed a marginal increase.

-- CP

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Accounting graduates entering today's job market should be prepared to highlight their technical expertise as well as their gift for numbers.

Chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed recently said that in addition to accounting skills, they look for professionals who have information technology proficiency (37%). Business acumen is also a desirable quality, receiving 26% of the response.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the world's first and largest recruitment firm specializing in the placement of accounting and finance professionals. Conducted by an independent research firm, the survey includes responses from more than 270 CFOs from a stratified random sample of Canadian companies with more than 20 employees.

CFOs were asked, "Other than traditional accounting knowledge, which one of the following skills is most in demand for accounting and finance professionals today?" Their responses:
Information technology 37%
General business knowledge 26
Communication skills 15
Leadership abilities. 10
Customer service orientation 6
Don't know/no answer 6
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100%

"To improve efficiencies, organizations are automating many of their accounting functions or upgrading their financial information systems," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International Inc. and author of Job Hunting For Dummies, Second Edition (Hungry Minds, Inc.). "As a result, recent accounting graduates with a demonstrated aptitude for technology-related projects are at an advantage in a competitive market."

Messmer pointed out that business acumen remains critical:

"Increasingly, accounting professionals provide guidance on the financial impact of decisions ranging from information technology investments to corporate governance issues. This requires an understanding of broader business concerns as well as traditional finance and accounting skills."

Trevor Zigelstein, Robert Half finance and accounting regional manager, added that "entry-level financial professionals who have the ability to work collaboratively with their information technology counterparts are in a position to help bridge these two critical areas of operations, and in the process, add considerable value to their role."

-- CNW


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