Desirable generic attributes for
accounting graduates into the
The views of employers
Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University of Technology,
School of Accounting Economics and Finance, University of Southern
Queensland, Springﬁeld, Australia
Curtin Business School, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
Accounting and Finance, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Business School, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia, and
School of Accounting and Finance, Charles Sturt University,
Wagga Wagga, Australia
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to determine the requirements of accounting graduates in
relation to generic attributes. Employers have consistently maintained that graduates are deﬁcient in
this area. This Australia-wide, all-sector study addresses the issue by examining what employers
mean when they make demands for universities and academics to deliver work-ready graduates.
Design/methodology/approach – Interviews (recorded, transcribed and analysed with NVivo)
with employers, and accounting professional bodies were conducted to ascertain their views of their
needs of accounting graduates into the future.
Findings – Employers held the generic attributes of communication, team work and self-management
to be the most critical for graduates in the three areas of recruitment, training and ongoing employment.
Demands on universities to deliver work-ready graduates are not homogeneous. Employers in different
sectors construe the meaning of generic attributes in line with their speciﬁc needs.
Originality/value – The study was an original piece of work that gauged the opinions of
professional accounting bodies and employers of accounting graduates across Australia and in all
sectors of the accounting profession. The value of the study is to inform academics as to the ranked
importance of generic attributes but also alert them to the different meanings that are assigned to these
skills by employers in different sectors.
Keywords Generic attributes, Accounting graduates, Communication, Team working,
Self-management, Australia, Students
Paper type Research paper
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Accounting Research Journal
Vol. 25 No. 1, 2012
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited