As with many careers, there is growing concern at the apparent lack of skilled accountants in South Africa. Once, a popular choice for school leavers, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), has noted a decline in the number of young people enrolling for B.Com degrees.

Ironically this trend is taking place at a time when the role and importance of Accounting and Financial skills is escalating. As noted by Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan accountants have historically been responsible for providing information to shareholders, but their role has now extended to informing persons in labour, government, the banking sector, regulators and general society. This includes providing the state with critical information on the economy which allows the government to make decisions and to control spending.

There is also an increased focus on corporate governance and the need for financial records to be one hundred percent accurate creating an even greater need for skilled and experienced financial staff.

According to Accounting SA, there is a particular need and demand for skilled Accounting staff in all sectors and in all sizes and types of organisations.

However, the crisis runs deeper in that even those who already have Accounting qualifications, are often lacking the skills needed to be effective within the ‘new’ economy.

Changing business practices and innovative technology has altered both the role of the accountant and the manner in which they do work. This means that accountants have to work hard to acquire and maintain the skills which are needed.

For example with the demand for accurate, real time information, accountants need to be able to understand and use technology effectively. They also need to be able to communicate with all role players – not just those in the accounts department.  Their role is far more integrated into the successful running of a business than before.

According to Sector Education and Training Authority for Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and other Financial Services (FASSET) CEO, Cheryl James shortages of accounting skills have been reported, globally for the past decade including in South Africa, making it a good option for those with an aptitude for and an interest in Mathematics and Accounting.

‘Accounting is also a very good career option for aspiring CEOs. The CEOs of many of the top 100 FTSE companies are accountants by training; the CEOs of 25% of Fortune 500 companies are accountants, and many CEOs in the public and private sector in South Africa are accountants,’ James explains.

In order to address these issues, in particular the skills shortage of intermediate level accounting skills in both the private and public sector, SAICA in partnership with the London based Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has launched a new professional body for Accounting Technicians.

The Association of Accounting Technicians South Africa or AAT (SA) as it will be known, provides a new career path in accountancy. The new organisation will offer seven membership levels to reflect increasing skills and experience as well as qualifications at NQF levels three to five and will also offer membership to people with relevant qualifications, prior learning and work experience.

‘For any nation to be an equal player in the global market, it is essential that the workforce is well trained with the right skills needed to do their job. AAT (SA) is a unique partnership between SAICA and AAT developed to improve service delivery and skills for business and the economy, and to provide personal development opportunities for individuals,’ comment Chantyl Mulder, director of AAT(SA) and SAICA’s senior executive for transformation and growth.

Qualifications that can be earned through institutions such as Boston City Campus & Business College’s Accounting courses will qualify inviduals for AAT (SA) membership, ultimately  increasing one’s employability.

Boston several accounting qualifications including: National Certificate (Bookkeeping Certified Jnr Bookkeeper); Further Education & Training Certificate (Bookkeeping Certified Snr Bookkeeper); National Diploma: Technical Financial Accounting (Certified Technical Financial Accountant) and National Diploma: Financial Accounting (Certified Financial Accountant).

These courses form part of the Accounting Certification Programme and are all accredited Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) courses.

According to the ICB, all the above qualifications have been developed in line with South African Qualification requirements with outcomes being based on international accounting standards thus ensuring that they are relevant to the South African market and business needs. ICB courses are also recognised and qualify for credits/exemptions from international accounting bodies including the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

As a Quality Assurance Partner (QAP) of the Sector Education and Training Authority for Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and other Financial Services (FASSET), the ICB is an external assessment (examining) body awarding accredited qualifications through Boston.

‘Boston and the ICB have been working together for a number of years and we are proud to say that our learners have achieved a high pass rate, with some being amongst the top performers,’ says Ari Katz, CEO of Boston.

Boston is committed to “Education. For Life.” and prides itself on offering relevant courses that meet industry needs; quality academic material and tuition that deliver a high level of success for students and provide them with employable, work-ready skills.

At Boston you are offered assistance with career counselling and its doors are open to the public to sit for a career compass assessment to discover your interests, talents and skills in order to make an informed career choice. Boston City Campus & Business College guarantees a warm welcome to all and will answer all your questions.