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Media Release

23 August, 2007

High-level accounting skills shortage challenge for education

Like all the other sectors of the South African economy, the chartered accounting profession is growing strongly and its business is becoming increasingly complex, but the industry experiences shortage of high-level skills, especially from among black South Africans.

So said Western Cape Education MEC Cameron Dugmore in his address to the 22nd Annual Convention of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa (AABASA).

Said MEC Dugmore: "Our own provincial Micro Economic analyses confirms that there is a dire shortage of engineers, chartered accountants, financial and technical skills that pose a serious threat to growth expectations in this province.

"As we were on the brink of the 1990 liberation breakthrough, according to the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, of the 163,800 professionals working in the field of science and technology then, only one per cent were black.

"According to the HSRC, the rapid increase in the demand for CAs was found to extend beyond the financial-services industry. Employers in various sectors have realised that the high-level skills of CAs could be used in a diverse range of functions, including strategic planning and the monitoring of productivity. This realisation has contributed to chartered accounting being classified as a super-growth occupation (HSRC 1999:52).

"From figures provided to my office from leading members of the industry, there is a total of 26,389 Chartered Accountants in South Africa, of which 3,262 are black, including African, Coloured and Indian. Of these 6,389 (24%) are women, and specifically 299 African women; 645 Indian women; and 209 Coloured women. Compare this to 5,225 white women CAs and 17,866 white males. (SA Instituted of Chartered Accountants)

"The low female representation also has a lot to do with perceptions at school level, where female learners are not encouraged to study mathematics, science, accountancy or technology related subjects."

However MEC Dugmore said the Western Cape Education Department has initiated several interventions to increase the mathematical intellectual capital. "For example, the number of Dinaledi schools has been expanded to 45 to improve the performance of high school learners in maths, science and technology."

He said: "In addition, the WCED has established eight Maths, Science and Technology Focus Schools in historically disadvantaged communities.

"Other initiatives include:

  • WCED continues to provide mathematics, science and technology kits, supported by teaching materials and lesson plans for teachers across all the grades in all our schools.
  • The WCED has increased the number of bursaries for student teachers progressively in recent years to 96 this year, for those intending to teach mathematics and science.
  • More than 100 schools are participating in the WCED's Khanya's Maths Schools Project, which is using technology to support teaching and learning in mathematics.

"Two interventions, which we are particularly proud of, are the two special schools, focusing on mathematics, science and technology, mainly for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"They are the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT) in Khayelitsha and the Cape Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Constantia. Both achieved excellent matric results in 2006.

"Our Cape Academy's first cohort of matrics (of 2006) has produced no less than eight students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, who have enrolled as chartered accountants or in other financial services related courses, of which one, in fact just this morning, has left to study financial mathematics at the Wesley College in the United States of America.

"Our efforts at improving learner performance in maths, science and technology have taken on an even greater sense of urgency now that maths is a compulsory subject in both GET and FET in schools. We have also made maths a key element of our new programmes in FET colleges.

"The implementation of the National Curriculum Statement in the Foundation Phase in 1997 has seen the introduction of a new Learning Area, namely Economic and Management Sciences (EMS), with the main focus on entrepreneurial knowledge skills, but also management, including financial skills, which all learners in the GET phase do.

"At the FET level (Grade 10-12) the subject formerly known as Business Economics has been transformed in the new subject Business Studies, and implemented as part of the NCS in Grade 10 in 2006, and currently implemented in Grade 11. This subject is 75% new and is being experienced as totally enjoyable and useful by the new cohort of learners."

For full text of speech, visit: www.capegateway.gov.za.

For enquiries, contact Gert Witbooi:  082 550 3938, or gwitbooi@pgwc.gov.za.

Issued by:
Gert Witbooi
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC for Education
Western Cape
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689

Visit our website: http://wced.wcape.gov.za

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