Project Achiever, a specialised preparatory course run by the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA), is helping a greater number of applicants pass the body’s Professional Evaluation (PE). More importantly, it’s also producing the calibre of accountants that practices, businesses and government entities are calling out for.
“Although we started Project Achiever to boost PE pass rates, our methodology intentionally elevates the way participants think about business problems,” says Sechaba Motaung, Professional Education Manager at the Institute. The long-lasting effects of this training benefits, not just the new accountant personally, but also their future clients or employers.
Past graduate Tebello Motsoene, agrees. “I gained more knowledge from Project Achiever than my degree,” she says. As a result, she is now a full SAIPA member and holds the Institute’s official designation of Professional Accountant (SA).
How it works
According to Delouise van der Westhuizen, Training and Assessment Manager at the Institute, attendees of the course are not rated on right or wrong answers but on the approach they take to solving business problems.
Project Achiever is presented in a virtual classroom every Saturday over a six-month period. The first hour-and-a-half session offers instruction on the course’s content. This is followed by a four-hour breakaway session in which participants are divided into groups and given a business scenario to solve. During this time, facilitators oversee student participation.
The remainder of the time is spent presenting their solutions, a duty everyone will eventually perform. Over the course of the day, they are exposed to problem-solving, teamwork and collaboration, creative thinking, communication and other competencies seldom taught in academia.
Facilitator Nqobani Mzizi, who graduated from the course in 2016, believes this form of experiential training is missing in schools and tertiary institutions. “It changed the way I think and, by extension, my life,” he says.
Project Achiever graduates are typically the highest scoring candidates in SAIPA’s PE and usually dominate the top three performer spots. This serves to illustrate the efficacy of the course’s approach.
“Once our students have learned to integrate their academic and practical training, and think holistically about business problems, they are more than ready to take the PE with confidence,” says van der Westhuizen.
The course is also not exclusive to SAIPA trainees. Anyone with a SAIPA approved degree and a verifiable record of six years of work experience as an accountant is welcome to attend Project Achiever. At the same time, they can register for the SAIPA PE and continue their career as a fully qualified Professional Accountant (SA), an NQF Level 8 qualification equivalent to an Honours degree.
“Many of our past students have qualified under the Recognition of Prior Learning track,” says Motaung.
Those who qualify to attend this year’s upcoming Project Achiever course should register before 14th February 2021. Interested parties can find the full details on SAIPA’s web site.
“I would also encourage employers to send their qualifying candidates on the course and ensure they become professionalised,” says van der Westhuizen. “This will help their accountants achieve their maximum potential much sooner.”
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