Professor Small, Executive: Education and Training at the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA), says the results of the Institute’s May 2019 Professional Evaluation (PE) are very encouraging: “They reveal that SAIPA’s strategies to bring measurable transformation to the Accounting Profession are bearing fruit, especially through the implementation of Project Achiever, which is funded by FASSET.”
What is SAIPA’s Professional Evaluation?
Before being admitted as a member of SAIPA and awarded the designation of Professional Accountant (SA), applicants must pass a Professional Evaluation. Held in May and November each year, the four-and-a-half hour written exam is a competency-based assessment of their practical accounting skills, interpretation of applied ethics and professional conduct. It is aligned with the International Education Standards (IES 6). “The Institute’s Professional Evaluation sets the minimum standard for excellence and is a rite of passage for all our members,” says Professor Small.
600 candidates took the latest Professional Evaluation at SAIPA facilities across the country, with assessments reaching as far as Upington. Of those, 360 were black, 117 white, 81 coloured and 42 Indian. 432 passed, with the top three positions being taken by black candidates from a total of 241 black candidates who were declared competent. 363 were female while 237 were male, which gives women accountants a significant lead compared to previous Professional Evaluations. “This is the largest sitting we’ve had in May as most candidates prefer to write in November, and, as can be seen, we are accelerating towards the desired demographic for the Profession,” says Professor Small.
500 candidates were graduates of SAIPA’s Project Achiever programme which is held every Saturday for 18 weeks running up to the Professional Evaluation. Although intended to prepare attendees for their Professional Evaluation, the goal of the programme is mainly to instil in them the critical soft skills, technical insights and mental attitude that make a well-rounded Professional Accountant.
This not only ensures they are equipped to qualify for their designation but are truly workplace-ready and can operate as team players in a corporate environment, even if they are subcontracted. “Today’s Professional Accountant needs to develop a more sophisticated complement of skills, especially soft skills that enable them to master the social and empathic requirements of being a trusted business advisor,” says Professor Small.
Pass rates for Project Achiever have also increased since its launch in 2015. It provides mock papers, exercises and assessments, continually stretching the competencies of participants. As of January 2017, the course can also be taken online, providing inclusive training to those who do not have access to a SAIPA training facility. “The programme is definitely growing in popularity because the word is out that those who attend are more likely to pass their Professional Evaluation, but more importantly are equipped with the competencies to contribute as a professional to the constantly changing environment,” says Professor Small.
SAIPA’s commitment to change
He also says the Institute continues to dedicate itself to transforming the Profession to make it truly representative of the demographics of South African society. He calls on more black school pupils and women to pursue the career of Professional Accountant to help bring balance to the industry. “Attitudes have changed, obstacles have been removed, and those previously disadvantaged groups who wish to become accountants can count on SAIPA’s commitment to equality through supportive guidance and proactive initiatives like Project Achiever,” he says.
Professional Evaluation Top 10
These were the ten highest scoring candidates:
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