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SPECIAL REPORT: Dramatic increase in black CAs(SA)

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… and the pipeline continues to expand

Statistics released by SAICA in late April revealed a dramatic improvement in the accounting profession’s gender and racial demographics.

Chantyl Mulder, SAICA’s senior executive for transformation and growth, attributes this to the Institute and the profession’s determined efforts to fast-track the number of black and female chartered accountants entering the profession. “The gains we have achieved were done without any impairment of the high standards that SAICA requires of those entering the profession,” she says.

The drive to boost the number of black CAs(SA) began seven years ago, and so the profession is currently experiencing the surge in new graduates and the steady, ongoing growth in the pipeline.

Several prominent features to emerge from an analysis of the most recent set of SAICA statistics show:

• of SAICA’s membership base of 28 483, a best-ever 7 569 (26%) are women and 4 145 (14%) are Black (Africans, Coloureds and Indians);
• in the 20 to 25 age group, 44% of CAs(SA) are Black;
• in the 20 to 25 age group, females make up 52% of the group total;
• a record-high 47% of CA(SA) trainees are currently Black, while 50% of the total are women;
• African and Coloured CA(SA) candidates have historically achieved first-attempt pass percentages of 45% in the qualifying examinations. The past year saw pass percentages soar to 63% for African candidates and 68% for coloured candidates;
• African and Coloured repeat candidates have historically achieved a 19% pass rate for the qualifying examinations — a figure that improved to an impressive 53% last year, thereby escalating the repeat pass percentage for African and Coloured students overall to 44%; and
• in 2008, 17% of first-time qualifying examination candidates were African, 5% Coloured, 14% Asian and the remaining 64% white – statistics that reflect a substantial increase in the Black percentages.

Mulder maintains that the paradigm demographic shift is largely the result of SAICA’s Thuthuka initiative as well as other initiatives from the profession and the Department of Labour, which helps nurture previously disadvantaged students from beginning to end of the highly onerous training process.

“Thanks to the Thuthuka Bursary Fund – financed by the profession, Fasset, Department of Labour, National Students Financial Aid Scheme, private and public sectors – the number of Thuthuka students has grown consistently – so much so that for 2009 the number of Thuthuka students in the system exceeds the 1 000 mark”.

Author: Edward Makwana, Project Director: Communications, SAICA.