June 2017

" The year of OR Tambo: Advancing Youth Economic Empowerment"
~ Ms. Tandi Mahambehlala, Deputy Minister of Communications


In the finance and accounting sector, demand for skilled labour is high. This sector is desperate for employees that can deliver on the recognised scarce skills, which means two things; lots of opportunity and lots of competition. The qualifications and/or certifications that confirm that the applicant possesses the necessary skills are only part of the equation - but personality and character revealed in an interview may play just as big a part in whether or not the job is given to the candidate.

According to The Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authoritys (Fasset) Acting Projects Manager, Amos Nokoane, there are three key interviewing strategies that can help candidates land the job. "The first key is knowledge. Candidates should ensure that they are aware of what the company does and what the job entails. Interviewees would appreciate in-depth knowledge of the companys culture, core focus and business proposition. Understanding and reflecting on the companys unique selling points would be an added bonus," advises Nokoane. "Understanding the requirements of the position, and showcasing the ability to deliver in these areas is essential to interview success."

The second key to acing the interview is to pay attention to the psychological elements at play. "There are various psychological aspects that could influence the interviewers mood, and in turn, affect the outcome," believes Nokoane. "The colour of the candidates outfit could portray a certain trait; for example, red shows power (but could be seen as overly aggressive), while grey portrays an analytical mind. The interviewee should also consider the age of the person that is conducting the interview, and tailor their answers accordingly. Applicants should show confidence, while avoiding hiding their weaknesses, and should subtly compliment their interviewer and the company."

Finally, and perhaps most important, the interviewer must show how their personal character traits align with the company culture. "This would give the interviewer confidence that the candidate would fit into the company, promoting a cohesive team," concludes Nokoane. "To achieve this, the interviewee should remain relaxed throughout the interview. Preparing some examples of how their traits align with those of the existing workforce would show a passion for driving the company forward - something no interviewer would ignore."

The most important interview element, which would allow the candidate to deliver on all of the above, is preparation. Any professional interviewer will instantly be able to determine whether or not the candidate has prepared, whether they are passionate about the industry and the company, and whether the candidate has made the necessary effort prior to the interview to give themselves the best chance at success. If the applicant has not prepared, their dedication to performance may be brought into question - and who would hire someone that they dont believe can perform?

By Zandile Skosana, Marketing and Communications Manager at Fasset

Choosing a career is a commitment to a world of work. While passion, interests and skills should certainly play a role in the road followed, pursuing a career path that inevitably leads to unemployment may not offer you the future you desire. How can this be avoided? The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) suggests linking studies to opportunities.

To do this, learners should research scarce and critical skills. The Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authoritys (Fasset) defines scarce skills as; "a shortage of people with the required attributes to fill positions available in the labour market. The attributes that employers are seeking when they try to fill positions in their organisations are specifically important. These may be qualifications, specific skills and experience, a specific race or gender or a combination of these attributes."

Interestingly, the Fasset Sector Skills Plan 2016 - 2021 indicates that finance and accounting services skills shortages are rampant, and the demand for skilled labour in the industry is high. From clerical to technician, administrative, professional and managerial positions, the sector provides large-scale employment opportunities for skilled candidates.

Considering future trends when deciding what to study (and which career to pursue) could mean the difference between walking down the yellow brick road to Oz, or joining an unemployment line. This is a decision that requires much thought, and one that should be made well before matric. Although the particular job designation need not be decided on, choosing an industry is important, to ensure that the right subjects are selected, enabling future higher education.

The finance and accounting sector is particularly important to the economy of South Africa and is populated by those who love working with the figures that make the economy tick. In the sector are those with financial management, accounting and auditing skills, each discipline an essential element to the efficient running of an organisation, whether its a large corporation or a small venture.

There is a shortage of such skills at all levels in the sector, which translates into many exciting and challenging opportunities for young talent. There are different pathways into finance and accounting careers, often linked to membership of professional bodies and leading to different career opportunities.

It is possible for an auditor to become a management accountant or financial manager in an organisation outside the finance and accounting sector. Similarly, it is possible for an accountant to become an internal auditor. However, one needs to be aware of the registration and other legal requirements for certain occupations.

In finance and accounting, transformation is also a keen goal. This combination of the demand for skills and the dedication to transformation provides a plethora of opportunities for learners considering a career in the sector. As mentioned, scarce skills in the sector are mainly in the professional, technician and associated professional occupations. While these occupational categories are experiencing above average growth, the shortages are often related to very special skills sought by employers. The lack of qualified African black people, especially in the higher-level occupations and professional designations, is considered a serious problem.

Scarce skills are normally expressed in terms of the occupations for which there are not enough candidates available. In every sector, the principles of supply and demand are active and drive the direction that the sector moves in. Where there is a demand, supply will be welcomed. Choosing a career path that feeds supply to a demand is the smart choice, and the best way to make the future count.