With June 16 marking the commemoration of National Youth Day in South Africa and youth unemployment now at the top of the national agenda, the South African Payroll Association (SAPA) wants to appeal to learners and recent graduates to explore a career in payroll.
Jetro Malapane, Executive Committee member of the SAPA, says that the while payroll industry is often seen as undesirable for young people, the role of payroll professionals today differs greatly from the past.
“When people think of the payroll department, they picture a group of greying people who sit in dimly lit spaces and do data capturing all day. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a complex and rewarding job, making it a solid option for graduates,” says Malapane.
What does a payroll professional do?
Payroll professionals are specialists within companies and they serve a function that assists both the Human Resources department and the finance department. They keep track of employee information using accounting, databases, spreadsheets, and software programmes.
“Payroll professionals need to have mathematics at a matric level. While this is not a standard requirement, some people enter the workforce and become payroll administrators upon completing their Human Resources Management and Financial Accounting qualifications as graduates, others go on to earn diplomas and certificates in payroll administration offered by different colleges and institutions in South Africa, such as Accsys, SAGE and Payroll Education College in Johannesburg with, The Da Vinci Institute now offering a BCom degree majoring in payroll,” says Malapane.
The responsibilities of a new payroll administrator will differ greatly from someone who has specialised in the field and worked in the industry for a number of years.
Payroll professionals also register with the South African Payroll Association to become Certified Payroll Practitioners which is recognised by SAQA, the designation range from Certified Payroll Technician (Administrator/Specialist), Certified Payroll Administrator Practitioner (Senior Administrator/Specialist) and Certified Payroll Practitioner (Manager).
“Some payroll professionals go on to manage teams while others specialise in compensation and employee benefits as Rewards Professionals and tax specialists. Everything from understanding HR and finance principles to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Labour Relations Act and Employment Tax Laws become crucial. Companies rely on payroll professionals to stay on top of statutory change updates and guide them so that they are compliant,” says Malapane.
Employment that speaks to the youth’s needs
Employer branding firm Universum SA recently published its annual ranking survey to reveal the country’s ‘Most Attractive Employers 2019’. Over 45,000 students and close to 23,000 working professionals participated in the survey to share their opinions and views on career goals and ideal employers. The survey revealed that both students and working professionals prioritise security and stability from employers.
“The current economic climate is tough, but payroll professionals are something that virtually every business needs. As an eager and ambitious payroll professional, you can find a solid company and get the job security that you need in the payroll department,” says Malapane.
Malapane concludes by encouraging young payroll professionals to become a member of the SAPA. “The website is jam-packed with information about careers in payroll, the payroll industry, and statutory updates that will keep you on top of relevant developments in the industry. I become a member in 2011 and I have never looked back. Being a SAPA member can help you grow in this fascinating industry,” concludes Malapane.
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