Bid to grow number of black CAs

Department of trade and industry seeks to transform chartered accountancy profession through new charter


Transformation within the chartered accountancy profession is on the cards and deemed necessary to grow the number of black people in the sector and in turn grow the country’s economy, according to the department of trade and industry.The department recently gazetted a revised draft of the Chartered Accountancy Profession Sector Code Charter in a bid to achieve transformation.The revised document also seeks to bring about meaningful change in the racial and gender composition of ownership and management structures within the sector.Nelson Mandela University honours accounting student Velisa Sishuba said an intervention like the revised CA charter could ensure sustainable inclusivity of more black chartered accountants.Sishuba said while the number of black students in her honours class, as opposed to earlier years, had proportionally increased, there was much room for improvement.She said the chartered accounting profession could offer a wide range of employment opportunities.“Receiving support from government, business and academic institutions uplifts young black students, like myself, and encourages us to work harder,” Sishuba said.“Statistics will show that there are a limited number of black professional CAs in SA and as such, interventions like these are necessary to encourage black students to become chartered accountants.“As challenging as it might be, I would encourage black school pupils wanting to pursue the profession to go for it.“If you persevere and you are motivated, you will go far.“Being a CA doesn’t limit you to a specific career path – it exposes you to auditing, taxation, management and financial accounting.”Deviating from the standard points allocation currently in place under the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment legislation, the CA charter places specific emphasis on skills development.According to the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica), in so doing, the CA charter seeks to grow the number of black people in the CA profession.Saica said the aim of changing the skills development score to 30 points, from the conventional 20, is to ensure that the CA profession is able to place greater emphasis on training, learnerships and bursary fund investments.Saica executive director for nation building Chantyl Mulder said the unique nature of the CA profession demands specific and strategic development approaches.“SA still has a large shortage of CAs – especially African and coloured CAs,” Mulder said.“But thanks to the CA charter, the profession now has a very real opportunity to empower South African citizens by meaningfully expanding the economic activity of the country through the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods.”Some of the key challenges in education at school level, noted by Saica, include;● A lack of career awareness and inadequate subject choice guidance, with the result that insufficient pupils are aware of the importance of maths higher grade for career purposes and insufficient black pupils know about accountancy and related support positions as professions; and● Pupils do not have appropriate numeracy and literacy skills upon entering higher education institutions.As such, the proposed intervention programmes include:● Development camps, economic and management sciences educator workshops, supplementary outreach university feeder education classes and parent workshops.At undergraduate level, some of the challenges Saica noted were:● Many historically disadvantaged universities are still unable to achieve accreditation;● A lack of funding leads to many black students studying on a part-time basis, which means they take longer to obtain a tertiary qualification;● A focus primarily on technical skills, which leaves students unprepared for the life skills in their professions.To widen the scope of tertiary education to include lifeskills training and socioeconomic coping mechanisms, Saica proposed capacity building programmes at the University of Zululand, Walter Sisulu University and the University of Venda as well as a student leadership summit.Black Management Forum deputy president Tasneem Fredericks said the CA charter could have been more deliberate about ownership in the hands of black people.“Black CAs have the ability to open their own businesses, hire more black professionals and through procurement and using their BEE status gain access to more work.”The public can submit comments on the charter to the department by June 26.

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