Understanding the dynamics of training offices is important to ensure the spread of incorrect information regarding training opportunities are addressed and to ensure prospective trainees are informed about the industry they are about to enter.
I often hear prospective trainees saying, ‘I just want a training contract’, and yes, I was there too. Knowing what I know now, there is a lot more consideration that needs to go into deciding to start with a training contract than just wanting a contract.
Availability of training contracts
There is a common misperception among students that training contracts are unlimited. This is however not true; the truth of the matter is that there are currently only approximately 11 000 registered training contracts, and this includes all trainees from first-year to final-year level.
This means there are about 11 000 trainees that are currently busy with training contracts extending over periods of between three to five years, based on their qualifications.
The availability of training contracts in the market is therefore dependent on a number of factors. Two of the main factors are a training centre’s requirement for new trainees (over and above the trainees they already have) and the number of trainees being signed off and training positions opening in the training offices.
Different training sectors
Everyone is familiar with the terms TIPP (training in public practice) or TOPP (training out of public practice), and these terms are still widely used in practice. However, SAICA has moved away from these terms when differentiating between the different types of training contracts.
The terms TIPP and TOPP have effectively been replaced by public practice, public sector and commerce and industry, which is admittedly much easier than remembering what TIPP and TOPP referred to.
Understanding the training office dynamics
At a given point in time, there are approximately between 700 to 720 registered SAICA training offices, with 1% of these offices being outside RSA. The number of registered officers is subject to change based on mergers as group training offices consolidate. We look at a breakdown of the training offices to create a holistic picture of the training opportunities available to trainees:
Public practice training offices: about 80% of training offices
Some 80% of the registered training offices are in public practice with auditing (mainly) as an elective. Of these training offices, only 0,05% have taxation as an elective.
- 85% of these training offices are small practices (the office has a quota of fewer than 30 trainees).
- 10% of these training offices are medium practices (the office has a quota of between 31 and 99 trainees).
- 4% of these training offices are large practices (4% of the offices have a quota of more than 100 trainees).
Training programmes in public practice are focused on training individuals for the industry and not on retaining individuals post-training. These trainees usually seek opportunities in commerce and industry, unless they decide to remain in practice − however, this would not necessarily be the company where they completed their training.
Public sector training offices: about 4% of training offices
4% of training offices are in the public sector. This includes AGSA training offices and training offices in other public sectors such as the South African Reserve Bank and government departments. AGSA holds about 2% of the training offices of the 4% in the public sector.
Commerce and industry: about 14% of training offices
There are approximately 14% training offices in the commerce and industry sectors, of which 1% are banks. The electives for these training offices vary from financial management and management decision-making and control to internal audit and taxation. These offices train individuals to be retained within their companies. 90% of trainees stay on in their offices after their training has been completed.
The commerce and industry sectors are the fastest-growing sectors for SAICA training contracts and with the introduction of the CA2025 initiative, SAICA expects this industry to grow even more. Trainees in the public sector should be aware that once their training ends, they will most likely enter the job market, as opposed to trainees in commerce and industry who have been trained to be retained.
Chantal Potgieter AGA(SA) is the founder of The Reviewer Consulting