Nzimande Calls For Equal Access In Accounting Profession

The Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, says there is an alarmingly low number of black graduates who are able to advance into the accounting profession. This has been caused by a number of things, including setbacks faced by historically disadvantaged institutions.

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The Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande has called for equality and inclusion of the historically disadvantaged races in the accounting profession.

The limitations faced by black BCom Accounting (Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting) graduates being unable to become Chartered Accountants (CAs) and their qualifications not being recognized by potential employers, has resulted in total disregard of the country’s equal opportunity policy, Nzimande said. 

While talking at the 27th annual PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) education conference, Nzimande said there are currently more than 48,000 registered CAs in South Africa, but fewer than 9,000 of them are African and coloured.

There are 17 universities in South Africa offering BCom Accounting that are accredited by South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). Some of the institutions that offer SAICA accreditation for their accounting programs are historically disadvantaged. 

The Initial Test Competence (ITC) examination is the first of two SAICA professional Qualifying Examinations that university graduates must pass to become a CA(SA).

Written twice a year, the ITC tests the integrated application of technical competence that candidates develop during the academic programme.

In order to pass, candidates must obtain an overall pass mark of 50% and must get a minimum of at least 40% in three of the four professional papers. 

Nzimande said that in the accountant career, there is a need to ensure that there is a step up of strategic interventions to increase access. The Minister also added that in terms of the number of black accountants, young black South Africans must be afforded better access in the field of commerce. 

Nzimande is concerned about the issues that SAICA has yet to deal with when creating CAs, including the requirements for passing the Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (CTA), as well as the obstacles particularly faced by black interns in the area of accounting.

The Minister said these barriers were faced to ensure that every aspiring and skilled accountant is able to become a professional accountant. 

He also added that South Africa can’t afford to miss the opportunity to ensure that its graduates, especially those with scarce skills, contribute to the most in demand jobs in our economy.  

While the government has made great strides in funding post-school education and training (PSET), Nzimande acknowledged that funding the poor and the “missing middle” students in South Africa still remains a challenge.

Nzimande said NSFAS continues to work with the SAICA Thuthuka Bursary Fund to ensure the economy has a consistent flow of sufficient and well qualified accountants which represents the country’s demographics.

The Minister however missed to particularly highlight women who have also been the most disadvantaged gender within the accounting profession. 

The Higher Education and Training and Science and Innovation Departments, continue with their commitment to work with PwC projects, specifically the human and institutional capacity development which can benefit students and the economy, said Nzimande. 
 

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