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June 30, 2008

Lure of sustainability reporting could plug Aussie skills shortage

CPA Australia hopes environmental and 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’s 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 well encourage kids who have never thought about accounting,” he suggested. “We have the 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. “But 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.”

The Australian government plans to implement an emissions trading scheme by 2010 and the government’s Financial Reporting Council discussed the critical need for developing a compatible accounting standard at its June meeting. The council determined that an international standard on emissions trading would not be ready in time for the beginning of Australia’s emissions trading scheme and decided Australia should move ahead with developing a standard.

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

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