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SAICA’s AT(SA) initiative contributes to building our nation

Last Updated Monday, October 8, 2018 2:41:49 PM

Better functioning accounting and finance departments boosts public and private sector success    

At the forefront of tackling the critical financial management skills shortages in South Africa is the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). Through its Accounting Technicians [AT(SA)] skills development and capacity-building projects, SAICA is creating better functioning accounting and finance departments in both the public and private sectors.

Accounting, finance and business skills are vital for our economy to thrive. Competent, qualified accounting technicians improve organisational productivity and efficiency, playing a key support role in accounting, finance and business across all sectors of the economy. 

Unfortunately, South Africa faces a dire financial management skills shortage, creating a significant challenge for all organisations – from public sector institutions struggling with poor service delivery to SME businesses and large corporations that require agile decision-making from their staff.

AT(SA) responds to these challenges by delivering work-ready financial graduates and upskilled accounting employees who make better financial decisions and are more effective in both the operational and financial arenas of a business.

As SAICA’s work-ready and practical entry-level designation, the AT(SA) qualification meets global standards and is quality-assured by SAICA for relevance in the South African workplace. This credible and quality accounting, finance and business qualification is also competence-based. Its relevance has ensured that AT(SA) is now a basic requirement to work in government finance department.
AT(SA) has a multi-pronged strategy that encompasses providing a qualification designed for sustainable employment and career advancement to address the skills shortage; improving access to education by improving quality and capacity at tertiary institutions; and improving the employability of youth by producing work-ready graduates and employees. 

“Over the last nine years, AT(SA) has provided qualifications and career advancement opportunities to more than 7,400 students and employees nationwide, through 42 Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges (TVETs), eight Universities of Technology (UoTs) and numerous public and private sector programmes,” says Nadine Kater, General Manager of AT(SA).

In fact, last year alone, AT(SA)’s Tertiary Education Programmes  trained 2 062 private sector AT(SA) members , while its Public Sector programmes reached 155 municipalities and government offices.

This success is achieved through powerful partnerships within both the private and public sectors. A case in point is a two-year AT(SA) qualification programme initiated in partnership with BANKSETA to equip candidates to fulfil entry-level accounting positions in banks, culminating in an accredited NQF level 5 FET (Further Educational Training) Certificate in Accounting.

“Accounting qualifications with a holistic work-integrated learning component is clearly aligned with our objectives as an agent of transformation that promotes employment equity empowerment through skills development,” says Similo Dlamini, Manager: Work Integrated Learning at BANKSETA. “BANKSETA invested R70 million in this initiative over a three-year period.”  

The impact also extends to entrepreneurs and small businesses, as evidenced by the success stories of many of the AT(SA) graduates. Kwenza Ntombela (a recent AT(SA) graduate) was unable to complete his BCom studies after his bursary was discontinued in 2009. For four years, he ran a garden service business to earn enough money to continue his studies but then the AT(SA) BANKSETA opportunity was presented to him. Today, the company he started after obtaining his AT(SA) qualification – Londwa Freight and Construction – employs more than 70 people from local communities. 

“We are pleased with the successes achieved through this qualification, as both the private and public sectors benefit from the desperately needed quality accounting skills, ethics and governance that ATs(SA) contribute,” says Chantyl Mulder,  SAICA Executive Director: Nation Building. “It also enables our profession’s transformation objective, by delivering a constant flow of suitably qualified accounting professionals, representative of the country’s demographics, into the economy.
“With the objective of ‘responsible leadership’, SAICA is committed to building the nation in line with the National Development Plan: Vision 2030 (NDP). Our numerous initiatives under SAICA Nation Building umbrella contribute to the national drive for transformation, employment and growth. With initiatives such as AT(SA), SAICA is advancing the competitiveness of our economy by helping to create better functioning accounting and finance departments across the public and private sectors,” Mulder concludes.  

For more information on the AT(SA) designation, visit the website at


The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), South Africa’s pre-eminent accountancy body, is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading accounting institutes. The Institute provides a wide range of support services to more than 46 000 members and associates who are chartered accountants [CAs(SA)], as well as AGAs(SA) and ATs(SA), who hold positions as CEOs, MDs, board directors, business owners, chief financial officers, auditors and leaders in every sphere of commerce and industry, and who play a significant role in the nation’s highly dynamic business sector and economic development.

SAICA Media Contact
Kulani Chauke
Communication Coordinator: Corporate
SAICA Brand Division
011 479 0698