image002_SMOne of the organisations enabling young professionals in the public sector to acquire professional accounting designations is the Public Service Education and Training Authority (PSETA). In their last intake of learnerships (2018/2019) for graduates and professionals in the public sector one lucky young lady, Asanda Nojilana, saw her career getting a boost after she applied for a learnership to pursue the Accounting Technician [AT(SA)] professional accounting designation offered by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).

Decent work and employment creation are some of the integral elements of the United Nations’ (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. These goals aim to address global challenges such as poverty and inequality amongst others. This ties in SAICA’s ongoing efforts of encouraging the professionalisation of financial offices in private and public sector organisations like the PSETA through its [AT(SA)] and Associate General Accountant [AGA(SA)] designations. Here is Nojilana’s story;

Nojilana (23), who hails from King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape, recalls hearing from a friend in February 2019 about a one-year AT(SA) and AGA(SA) learnership offered by the Eastern Cape’s Department of Treasury. “I went there to find out about it and applied. There were other learners who also applied, but did not make it. I was fortunate to make it onto the programme.”

She reflects on how she thought her post matric studies in policing diploma would be her only hope of making a living until the AT(SA) learnership changed her perspective and gave her more encouragement about her future. “The learnership was not as hard as I expected. I was excited and knew that in order for me to change my life, and improve my career, I had to challenge myself to work hard and ensure I reach the 70% target marks in the learnership.”

Towards the end of her learnership in 2019, a permanent vacancy opened up in the Eastern Cape’s Department of Sport. She took a leap of faith and applied for the position. Eventually, she got the position and is now a permanent employee of the department working as an Accounting Clerk in cash management, thanks to the AT(SA) learnership and qualification. She expresses her gratitude to the PSETA and the National Treasury for giving her a boost in her career. “I am grateful to now have work experience and a professional accounting designation that can open more opportunities for me in future. I would love to grow even further in the finance space.”

She encourages those with a passion in public sector finance and accounting to apply for the learnership programme offered by PSETA. “Once you’ve been selected, commit yourself to the programme and work hard. It gives you experience, which in turns opens doors for you in your career,” says Nojilana.

Explaining the rationale of funding projects like the AT(SA) learnership, Minah Kgadile, Learning Programme Officer at PSETA, says that it is because of the National Treasury’s commitment of giving unemployed graduates who have a finance and accounting background an opportunity to get a head start in their careers and contribute to government’s developmental goals as well as objectives; “as part of our public administration learnership, the National Treasury identified the need to give unemployed graduates who have a finance and accounting background an opportunity to apply for the learnership programme. We as PSETA assisted with the funding and rolling out of the programme.”

Kgadile says that the funding of the last intake of the learnership was to the tune of R4,5 million. Over 100 unemployed learners were funded from Limpopo and the Eastern Cape (50 per province) in the last intake of the learnership in 2019. Of the 100, only 60 completed the programme. She adds that PSETA also facilitates training for officials already employed by the National Treasury and wishing to pursue professional accounting designations such as the AT(SA) and AGA(SA).

This commitment is a true example of how organisations can collaborate to create decent work and employment in line with the UN’s 2030 Agenda.