Follow the yellow brick road

| September 17, 2010

One of the biggest challenges facing senior students is deciding what to do – and where to do it – after school.


If your pupils are considering chartered accountancy, they need to make the decision as soon as possible. That’s the word from Dave Lange (CA) SA, National Audit
Graduate Recruitment Manager at Deloitte.

“Choosing a career is hard unless you know what you were born to do. High school students should be making prompt and informed decisions that will move them towards solid outcomes. Careers counsellors need to work closely with Grade 10 pupils when it comes to subject selection, especially those considering chartered accountancy.”
Lange issues this caveat because of the years of study and examinations CAs must endure. “It’s an exacting preparation and only the strong survive.

There are pitfalls all along the way, and specialists in the field should be called in to discuss them with pupils considering the career. Those that stay the course are the few who can put CA (SA) behind their names.” Aspirant CAs need to have taken Mathematics and English as subjects and to have matriculated with exemption.

“English is the global business language, after all”, Lange points out.

Find out which SAICA accredited course is right

Students must apply to one of the 13 South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) accredited South African universities for an undergraduate qualification such as a B Com Accounting degree. Each university may have different entrance requirements, and may call the degree by a different name, so it’s wise to do a comparative survey of the requirements and benefits first.

Lange stresses the importance of a fourth year of study as well, called Honours in Accounting by some institutions. This is the point when universities ‘up the ante’ just a little bit more. “Students must have a solid overall undergraduate result to qualify for this postgraduate option which they must complete in order to progress and  eventually become a Chartered Accountant,” says Lange.

Those who choose a distance education option at this stage however, do so at their peril, he adds. A tough course of study gets even tougher with minimal on-campus support, and many students drop out at this point.

The fourth year rigorous

Wherever students end up, the fourth year will be rigorous, believes Lange. Friends may be striking out in the exciting world of work while they’re still hitting the books, whilst finances as a student are tight. “These are all sacrifices to be discussed with parents and scholars way back at the Grade 10 level”.

During the fourth year, provided students pass all major subjects viz. Accounting, Auditing, Taxation and Financial Management. They will not only graduate with Honours, but a Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA) or Post Graduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA) as well. This certifies that you have indeed passed all four
subjects in one year. This is a prerequisite for writing the Qualifying Examination in the following year.

Articles next, plus more examinations

At this stage, graduates might very well feel as though the hard work is done. But believe it or not, there’s more to come. Completion of the CTA renders them eligible to enter into a 3-year training contract with a Registered Training Office (RTO) (to specialise in auditing) or an Approved Training Organisation (ATO) (to specialise in financial management).

This period was traditionally known as ‘articles’ and represents the practical learning phase of the qualification. SAICA lays out what needs to happen during this time.

Students must:

  • Complete the learnership (duration varies depending on level of qualification when entering into the learnership.)
  • Complete part one of the Qualifying Examination (QE 1).
  • Complete the specialist course relevant to your selected training programme in Financial Management or Auditing.
  • Complete part two of the Qualifying Examination (QE 2) (Financial management route) or Professional Practice Exam (PPE) (Auditing route) after having completed a minimum of 18 months of the training contract.

The training period is also important for another reason. Says Lange: “It’s your responsibility to drive your career. You must utilise every opportunity to learn about the business areas that your training office covers. It is imperative that you also attend technical and soft skills training offered by your training office as this will enable you to improve your skills and execute your duties more effectively.”

At the end of this challenging but rewarding journey, graduates are entitled to register with SAICA and use the CA (SA) designation, on condition that they have fulfilled all SAICA’s competency requirements. From this point on, the opportunities are endless both locally and internationally. Concludes Lange, “People who come through this process understand all the ins and outs of business, and are considered to be professionals. The tools with which they emerge are priceless.”

Contact SAICA at Tel: 08610 SAICA (72422) or + 27 (11) 621 6600 or Email: saica@saica.co.za

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Category: Spring 2010 Edition

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