Nation Building: Providing solutions for the National Development Plan through our members
Widely recognised as one of the world’s leading accounting institutes, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) is more than just a professional body; it is a critical player in South Africa’s development journey. In line with this, a key driver of SAICA’s strategic objectives is the National Development Plan: Vision 2030 (NDP) that calls on the private and public sectors, as well as civil society to rally behind a united vision for the country’s development.
Having placed its sole objective as “responsible leadership,” SAICA is committed to building the nation. By definition, the term “responsible leadership” refers to business decisions that, next to the interests of shareholders, also take into account all other stakeholders, such as staff, clients, suppliers, the environment, the community and future generations. It is for this reason the tenet of creating and maintaining a profession of empowered members who ‘support the development of the South African economy’ is that central to SAICA’s constitution.
To this end, our organisation runs numerous initiatives under the SAICA Nation Building umbrella that aid the national drive for transformation, employment and growth that will ensure social and economic development. The selection of our initiatives is informed by the challenges that have been flagged in the NDP as stumbling blocks for the country’s developmental goals. These include the following:
• The quality of education for black people is poor.
• The economy is unsustainably resource-intensive and too few people work.
• There is a need for improved skills development.
• Public services are uneven and often of poor quality.
Under SAICA’s various Nation Building Initiatives, you will see the direct impact of the work SAICA Nation Building has had thus far in assisting to achieve the strategic objectives of transformation, growth and employment. To give you context into how these programmes work together to assist in remedying these stumbling blocks, what follows is a brief an overview of the strategic intent of each.
Transformation: Transforming the demographics of the profession to match the country’s demographic profile
The profession’s transformation objective, as espoused in the CA Charter, is to ensure that there is a constant flow of suitably qualified accounting professionals who are representative of the country’s demographics, into the economy. SAICA Nation Building does this through various skills development initiatives targeted at primary, secondary and tertiary education. Through Thuthuka, SAICA Professional Development and the Accounting Technician South African (AT[SA]) qualification, the profession is growing the number of chartered accountants, general accountants and accounting technicians, as well as transforming the demographics of the profession to match the country’s demographic profile.
SAICA Nation Building took its transformation endeavours one step further in 2016 when it broadened its expertise to assist in crafting and launching a sustainable funding structure solution for higher education using our internationally respected Thuthuka model. That solution, the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP), piloted in 2017 and is currently fast-tracking South Africa’s production of scarce skills for the 21st century by funding students studying towards occupations of high demand. By increasing the number of students studying towards STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) qualifications, the ISFAP model focuses on creating employable graduates who can become active participants in the economy.
Yet, it is not enough merely to provide SA’s youth with the opportunity to gain a tertiary qualification. To overcome the stumbling blocks as described by the NDP, one must expand their potential sources of employment too.
Employment: Preparing graduates for the working world
In South Africa, a lack of experience and work-readiness has given rise to the large number of graduates who remain unemployed post qualification. Indeed, many corporates avoid employing newly-qualified graduates as they do not have the practical experience they need to enter the working world.
At SAICA Nation Building, we believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that a consistent pipeline of adequately and suitably qualified professionals enter the marketplace and that these individuals remain relevant throughout their career. Thus, as the profession, SAICA is addressing this through initiatives like Thuthuka, AT(SA) qualification, ISFAP and the CA(SA) training programme as well as through internally run projects like CA2025.
These initiatives identify the required competencies of future professionals and, in the case of the chartered accountancy profession, look at how to reinvent the qualification process in response to the ever changing needs of business. In doing this, we produce competent, work-ready graduates whose qualification and training respond adequately to the needs of organisations in both the public and private sectors.
To create similar opportunity for unemployed accounting graduates who have not followed the CA(SA) route, SAICA Nation Building has also successfully piloted work-readiness initiatives aimed at preparing these graduates for entry into the workplace. By providing graduates with real work experience in a simulated office environment, we have achieved a high placement rate (in excess of 90%) for these accounting graduates by giving them access to employment opportunities once they have completed their training through formal learnerships across the broader accounting profession thanks to the assistance of SAICA’s wide SMP network.
Our work in creating more employment opportunities does not stop there. In considering the potential sources of employment growth, we have considered the views of South Africa’s National Planning Commission which makes special mention of the limited expansion of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMMEs). Noting that in successful economies it is in the SMMEs where most job creation takes place, we have placed a strategic focus on developing this area too.
Growth: Solution for Unemployment
Studies show that a solution for unemployment cannot be achieved by only focusing on the corporate sector, which is at risk of being over over-saturated by the high number of new entrants into the job market. Our focus must, therefore, also be on:
- building capacity at all of South Africa’s tertiary institutions, including Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDIs), Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges and Universities of Technology (UoTs);
- growing the capacity of all practices, including emerging firms;
- increasing interest in entrepreneurship from a young age;
- building the capacity of big corporates to become part of economic growth; and promoting careers - in the public service.
Through SAICA Nation Building initiatives such as the HDI capacity building programmes, SAICA Enterprise Development, The Hope Factory and the AT(SA)’s Public Sector Qualifications to name a few, we actively focus on developing sustainable employment opportunities to ensure that all South Africans can take up their rightful place in the economy. This is done through projects that focus on entrepreneurship and making the public sector more attractive as a career of choice.
The intended end result of our SMME projects is to create a pipeline of entrepreneurs who are able to operate successful businesses that are financial sound, sustainable and have the capacity to create jobs. In the public sector, our projects will ensure that – when operating optimally – the sector can act as a catalyst of economic growth by providing high-quality service and stimulate economic growth within the communities it serves.
In this report, my team and I are proud to outline our 2017 project results and illustrate the national impact of our activities.
Thank you for your continued support
Over the past 15 years, SAICA Nation Building has become a trusted partner in social development. Yet, the strength and success of the programmes we run can only be achieved through the support of powerful partnerships and a coordinated approach between SAICA, the profession and our other stakeholders. We thank all our partners, funders, key stakeholders and SAICA members for your valuable support of and contribution to our projects thus far.
Your contributions are noted daily, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration, and thus inspiring more young people to take up scarce professions and become the drivers of our economy. By seeing the results of our combined efforts, we hope that you will be inspired to continue your journey with us in upscaling our projects, so we can realise mass impact for the accounting profession and the country as a whole through these projects.
To find out how to get involved in SAICA’s various Nation Building projects, please contact the SAICA’s project managers.