Empowering the youth in the Eastern Cape

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The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) in partnership with the University of Cape Town (UCT), the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Walter Sisulu University (WSU), aims at building the capacity of WSU by working towards re-accrediting WSU?s BCom (Accountancy) programme so as to further skills development and employment opportunities within this largely disadvantaged community.

The project will also address the country?s local, regional, national and international human capital needs, given the dire shortage of CAs(SA) in South Africa.

This is part of SAICA?s capacity building projects at some of the country?s historically disadvantaged universities - an initiative aimed at transforming the profession.

SAICA?s Transformation, Growth and Skills Development Senior Executive Chantyl Mulder says "through this project, 425 learners will gain access to a high-quality undergraduate degree programme with international recognition.

It is not only a transformation initiative; it will significantly contribute towards addressing the current skills shortage in the country - particularly in the chartered accounting profession,' she explains.

This project is part of SAICA?s transformation initiative - Thuthuka. DHET will provide funding and SAICA will provide administrative support, whilst UCT will provide academic support in order to deliver high quality lecturing to the learners on the programme.

Apart from providing funding for studies, students will be provided with access to mentors, be given workplace skills training and be introduced to learnership opportunities.

Mulder commended the WSU Faculty of Business, Management Sciences and Law Department of Accountancy?s commitments towards ensuring that the University is re-accredited, stating that the impact will be felt not only by the students on the programme, but also by this largely disadvantaged community.

Currently, there is a countrywide shortage of 5000 Chartered Accountants. However, there is also an insufficient number of black chartered accountants in South Africa - representing less than 7% Africans out of the total 34 000 Chartered Accountants South Africa [CA(SA)] membership.

Prof. LR van Staden, WSU Administrator, said,' Walter Sisulu University is extremely pleased to be involved in this groundbreaking project. WSU prides itself on providing opportunities for students from the disadvantaged eastern part of the Province and access to the accounting profession at the highest level is a significant breakthrough.

To be able to serve the accounting profession through SAICA?s Thuthuka project is a privilege that we welcome.'

Prominent WSU alumnus, Auditor-General Terence Nombembe, has added his praise to the project saying, 'We need to applaud the unwavering commitment of so many key stakeholders to provide access and proximity to the rural community of the Eastern Cape.'

WSU alumnus, Nonkululeko Gobodo also supports the programme saying, "WSU gave me the foundation that sustained me throughout my career. I went on to become the first black woman chartered accountant in South Africa and I am now the leader of the biggest black accounting firm and the 5th largest in the country.'

"These testimonies clearly show the fulfilment of so much potential that exists locally,' concluded Professor Van Staden.

In 2011 the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, released the National Skills Development Strategy, the NDS III, which identified an urgent strategic need to focus on developing the skills and capacity of all public tertiary education institutions.

What do you think?
Which further strategies could be put in place to develop skills at a tertiary educational level?

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