Finweek English Edition - - Economic Trends & Analysis - JO­HANN VAN ZYL

SOUTH AFRICA’S au­dit­ing groups are strug­gling to find enough char­tered ac­coun­tants, and uni­ver­si­ties are start­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fi­cul­ties in mak­ing qual­ity ap­point­ments. And the rea­son in both cases is the same: grad­u­ates are be­ing lured to greener pas­tures by mas­sive salaries.

The SA In­sti­tute of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants (Saica), says SA has a short­age of 22 000 CAs. It’s do­ing its best to at­tract more CAs through, in­ter alia, its bur­sary scheme and its in­volve­ment in the Thuthuka project, which will be six years old this year. How­ever, Saica’s not pre­pared to lower its stan­dards, as shown clearly by its al­leged threat to strip Wits’s once highly re­garded depart­ment of its ac­cred­i­ta­tion.

The prob­lem is that uni­ver­si­ties find it dif­fi­cult to find CAs pre­pared to work for a mod­est aca­demic salary. Though some uni­ver­si­ties are pre­pared to ap­point CAs on doc­tor­ate level scales, they have to cope with in­creas­ing num­bers of va­cant posts and even un­der­qual­i­fied lec­tur­ers.

Young CAs are lured away to large or­gan­i­sa­tions as fi­nan­cial heads, as­sis­tants, busi­ness an­a­lysts and even fi­nan­cial direc­tors by salaries of up to R100 000/month. A glance at the lat­est is­sues of in­dus­try mag­a­zine Ac­coun­tancy SA shows young peo­ple who have just com­pleted their de­grees and ar­ti­cles (in­volv­ing at least seven years of study­ing) aren’t likely to be ap­pointed at un­der R480 000/year.

And there are plenty of jobs. The Novem­ber is­sue ad­ver­tised at least 100 va­can­cies for qual­i­fied CAs at at­trac­tive salaries uni­ver­si­ties wouldn’t eas­ily be able to match.

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