The accounting profession, which for years bemoaned a lack of skilled tax and accounting staff, may be in for a change.

Big Four firms have been delaying college graduates’ start dates – at least in Australia – and paying them a hefty stipend if they agree.

According to, PricewaterhouseCoopers has offered some graduates $4,000 to delay their start date at the firm. Ernst & Young has also employed this tactic.

In another effort to cope with the faltering economy, PricewaterhouseCoopers, has asked staff to take two or three weeks leave to cut corporate costs. The firm has already laid off 170 people earlier this year.

The firm’s chief executive, Paul Johnson, emailed 5,000 staff this week asking them to take 10 to 15 days unpaid leave, calling more layoffs a “last resort.”

The firm’s partners are exempt from the leave request, as well as, busy staff in insolvency and corporate restructuring.

KPMG also has laid off 200 staff, according to the report