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June 14, 2008

Sustainability reporting suggested to lure new recruits

CPA Australia hopes sustainability reporting could help attract more young people to the accounting profession, providing one solution to the ongoing skills shortage.

The institute’s president, Alex Malley, said current environmental issues provide a “great chance to bring some very different thinkers to the table”.

“I think sometimes the accounting profession needs to talk about things more broadly, it has traditionally been a repressed profession and I think we have got an opportunity to open the windows and bring some change,” he told The Accountant.

“Environmental reporting and sustainability opens the door to the profession to a whole new way of thinking. It may encourage kids who have never thought about accounting. We have a skills shortage and I think we need to tap different talents.”

Malley said the growing sustainability reporting phenomenon presents a huge opportunity.

“You can’t leave environmental reporting and sustainability in the political arena only, you need some credibility in how you are going to measure it, how you are going to capture the information,” he said. “You need some imagination on who you are bringing to the table on this; you need to change the perception of the profession to a broader market.”

Critical need for standards

The Australian government plans to implement an emissions trading scheme by 2010 and the nation’s Financial Reporting Council discussed the “critical need” for developing a compatible accounting standard at its June meeting.

The council determined an international standard on emissions trading is unlikely to be ready in time for the beginning of the Australian government scheme and Australia should move ahead with developing a standard of its own.

It was decided the Australian Accounting Standards Board, in consultation with the Treasury, will develop a paper canvassing alternative options for developing a standard in the Australian context.

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