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Green skills add up

by Heather Leggett

Researcher Joanne Tingey-HolyoakAccounting students should think seriously about gaining some 'green' skills before graduation day, according to a recent study by a UniSA researcher.

Conducted by Joanne Tingey-Holyoak from UniSA's Centre for Accounting Governance and Sustainability (CAGS), the study has revealed that many local accountants expect their new recruits to have attained accounting related sustainability skills at university.

Tingey-Holyoak surveyed 121 South Australian accountants as part of an honours project, supervised by founding director of CAGS Professor Roger Burritt, to determine the extent to which accountants are responding to pressure to engage with the environmental agenda.

She says that the research results indicated a link between the perceived personal importance of environmental issues and the perceived necessity of sustainability skills in new recruits.

"Accounting firm manager's perceptions of the importance of sustainability graduates were predicted by their perceptions of the importance of sustainability issues to society, their clients and accountancy professional bodies," she says.

"The results of the study are very positive, especially when considered alongside the fact that the majority of participants viewed the welfare of the environment as being personally important to them."

Tingey-Holyoak says the results indicate that the future for sustainability accounting in South Australia is encouraging.

"What also emerged from the study is confirmation that the accounting profession has acknowledged the critical link between business and sustainability," she says.

According to Tingey-Holyoak, the findings also indicate that the demand for sustainability education for future accountants is expected to intensify over time.

"Specific skills, such as sustainability assurance and emissions accounting, are expected to increase considerably over the next three years," she says.