Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius once observed: 'Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.' This is how I am feeling about 2017 - events have come and gone and another year is winding down, having passed in a flash of feverish activity.

Here we are again in the thick of exam season for matriculants on the verge of the next leg of their journey, tertiary institution students edging closer to their professional destinies and employers and employees sitting their professional exams to better their proficiency and prospects.

Fasset is proud to play an integral role in the lives of many of these individuals, through its school career awareness activities, its initiatives for students who will become the backbone of finance and accounting services, and its ongoing support for those whose skills are taking the sector from strength to strength. We wish all those who are putting pen to paper at this time great results.

A major achievement for Fasset this year was the launch of the comprehensive career portal, which contains a wealth of information for anyone interested or involved in the sector and what it has to offer. It is gratifying to see how many visitors have already benefited from this valuable resource, but I would encourage everyone in the sector to visit www.fassetcareers.co.za, particularly employers looking to recruit interns. Scores of youngsters have registered with us - people who have selected finance and accounting as a career of choice and who will bring the commitment and attitude that companies seek in new team members.

Employers, upload and advertise your opportunities on the portal and we're confident that you will find the talent you need to bolster your businesses.

In this issue of Fasset Facts, you will be encouraged, too, to attend information sessions on the grant incentives we offer for training. While many of you will be familiar with the application process, these sessions will explore the newer grants that were introduced by virtue of our strategy change in the middle of the 2016/2017 year, and will offer you the opportunity to quiz our experts on any aspects of the grants process.

We also present the facts about the impending qualifications restructure, which has implications for learners, providers and employers.

And there is much more, including profiles on inspirational youngsters who are living their career dreams thanks to their drive and determination, and a little helping hand from Fasset.

Enjoy this issue and we will check in with you again as dizzy December takes hold.

Zandile Skosana

Marketing and Communications Manager


The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is undoubtedly the highlight of every Seta's year and ours was no exception. Held at the Sunnyside Park Hotel on 21 September, it was the perfect platform for us to share with our stakeholders the triumphs and trials of the 2016/2017 year. And there were much to talk about in both categories.

In what was undeniably a turbulent year, we were still able to bring smiles to many faces, most notably the faces of the many beneficiaries whose lives have been changed by our programmes. We kicked off the year in great style with the launch of our #LastingLegacy initiative, which aims to leave a meaningful mark no matter what happens to us as a Seta.

We pioneered new and exciting projects such as the alumni initiative aimed to enlisting past beneficiaries to share their wonderful career stories with schoolgoers who are mulling over their career choices, and our Learner Professional Development programme, which is aligned to our lifelong learning initiative. New grants came in, including the Learner Employment Grants that incentivises employers to support learners so that they can continue their learnerships, and the Non-PIVOTAL LEG to encourage employers to place learners on an internship or into permanent employment.

Skills levy income of R487 million, which was up 8% on last year, allowed us to achieve many of our targets in the areas of research, building a skills pipeline and career awareness. We disbursed R73 million in mandatory grants compared to R56 million in 2015/2016, while R262 million was ploughed into discretionary grant projects, compared to R316 million in the previous period.

However, we were not able to achieve all the targets we had agreed with the Department of Higher Education and Training due in part to the discontinuation of certain projects and the delayed start of new programmes introduced, which were deemed necessary following a hard look at our strategy.

The audited financial statements reflect R6 million in irregular expenditure (compared to R7 million in the previous year) due to non-compliance with regulations and processes in certain instances related mostly to prior years. Furthermore, R22m fruitless and wasteful expenditure has also been disclosed in respect of a 2006/ 2007 project, which was detected during a forensic audit in the year under review. This, unfortunately, led to us receiving our first unqualified audit opinion from the Auditor-General. Decisive steps have been taken to close gaps identified in the supply chain management system and to create a more robust monitoring and evaluation process for projects by introducing more stringent measures. The system of internal controls has been reviewed and a number of processes have since been put in place to strengthen our controls.

Paging through our annual report - which is to be found on www.fasset.org.za - we hope you will agree that we have dealt with the year's challenges with the candour they - and you - deserve. As our Acting Chairperson, Shahied Daniels, reiterated at the AGM, we have a duty to report the good, the bad and the ugly in an honest, transparent way.

While the report reflects our willingness to fulfil this duty, more importantly it speaks of a long and proud history of skills development delivery that cannot be derailed by a passing storm, but will continue for as long as our tenure.

We thank you, our employers, providers and learners, for your ongoing support and understanding. We are privileged to serve this great sector and humbled to have you as partners in the building of a robust and sustainable skills pipeline that will carry our lasting legacy far into the future.

Lesego Lebuso

Acting Chief Executive Officer


Many youngsters have the drive and talent to soar in whatever field they choose, but often their wings are clipped through lack of resources. That's what makes programmes such as Fasset's bursary scheme so special and relevant in South Africa today. And more than 600 deserving students had reason to celebrate when the bursary boost they needed became reality.

These fortunate candidates are studying at 23 institutions countrywide, from the University of Limpopo in the north to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in the east. The University of Free State is proud host to 138 Fasset bursary recipients, while University of Western Cape has 95 and University of Pretoria has 89. Even with only two bursars apiece, Stellenbosch University and Rhodes University are still VIPs (very important participants).

All the beneficiaries are working towards qualifications in studies aligned to the sector's top 10 scarce skills, which include accountant, financial manager, investment and tax adviser, and information and communications technology specialist, explains Acting Projects Manager, Amos Nokoane. All are in their second or third years, or are honours students.

For Unathi Sapa, Fasset stepped in just at the right time with his passport to a Postgraduate Degree in Accounting at the University of Cape Town (UCT). At the time, there were no funds for further learning.

His credentials were sound, however, with Maths, Science and Accounting being his favourite subjects from as far back at school as he can remember. 'I completed my schooling at Leap Science and Maths School and wanted a career that would accommodate those subjects and Accounting,' he says. 'My first choice was Actuarial Science, but for that I needed to do a bridging course. So I went for my second choice - a BCom in Accounting. I had to use the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, but even that was a challenge, as the family contribution was high.

'At the postgrad stage, UCT introduced me to Fasset and helped me to apply for a bursary. Without it, I couldn't have considered continuing my studies. Apart from assistance with living expenses, books and transport, the bursary funded a laptop, which has helped greatly with my studies. The support I have received has motivated me to do well in my upcoming final exams. I owe that effort to Fasset as much as to myself.'

Unathi hopes to qualify as a CA (SA) in the not-too-distant future and ultimately to become a businessman who will play a role in growing the South African economy and helping others to achieve their goals in the way he has been helped.

A more immediate focus, however, is encouraging his 14-year-old cousin to chase his goal of provincial soccer stardom. To ensure that happens, Unathi spends every Saturday watching the youngster play and shouting encouragement from the sidelines.


No document is more crucial in the life of a Seta than its Sector Skills Plan (SSP). It can be regarded as the lighthouse on the skills development landscape, throwing light where it is needed, preventing training and development efforts from floundering, and keeping Setas firmly focused on their path.

The Fasset SSP, mapping out the journey from April 2017 to March 2022 - as the finance and accounting services sector's most definitive skills profile - makes for interesting reading.

It reveals a steady increase in the number of sector employees from previously marginalised groups, which, although encouraging, is far off the ideal mark. In 2001/02, Fasset's second year of operation, 29% of people in the sector were African Blacks. By 2016, this had grown to 39%, with 12% Coloured and 9% Indian representation. The most up-to-date figures indicate that African Black professionals account for 41% of the sector workforce.

You may be surprised to learn, though, that the industry employs only 1% of the total South African workforce and only 6% of the workers in the finance, real estate and business services sector. Its true contribution to the South African economy cannot be calculated accurately, however, due to the nature of the industries.

In the eight years to 2016, the sector increased its employment profile by 18 000 employees, taking the full labour complement to about 145 000.

As with other economic sectors, the supply of skills doesn't meet demands, and skills shortages persist as the sector grows, and demands change and increase. Naturally, accountants are in particularly high demand - currently there is a shortage of more than 2 500 of these individuals. Here, we're not talking just qualified and experienced accountants, but learners and trainees who will be the professionals of tomorrow.

The second greatest scarce skill is external auditor - 366 are needed right now.

'Skills shortages are aligned largely to the transformation goals of the organisations in our sector,' says Director of Research,' Lauren Derman. 'Thus, there is a dire need for larger numbers of African Black graduates.'

Fasset research has uncovered many reasons for the challenges that consistently plague the sector. At the lowest education level is the poor performance in school Mathematics and a lack of meaningful career guidance.

Once matriculants make it to tertiary institutions, they face financial constraints and a shortage of lecturers. Further down the line, lack of work readiness hampers many graduates, as does the slow level of transformation and limited career progression at smaller firms. Over the years, the Seta has used this intelligence to ensure that its programmes are tailored and targeted at areas where they will have the greatest impact. 'Fasset's interventions, and the unwavering support of employers and other stakeholders, have set the sector on course for continued growth and accelerated transformation,' Lauren concludes.


The finance and accounting services sector is known to stride slightly ahead of the pack in matters of skills development and, in true pacesetting style, it is more than ready for the impending change in qualifications structure.

The sector is already au fait with the ideals of the integrated post-school training and education landscape and boasts many examples of partnerships among professional bodies, universities and employers in the implementation of learnerships registered against new Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) qualifications. The changes taking shape will allow the sector to take this collaboration to greater heights.

End-June 2018 is the end of the world as we know it, qualifications wise. Qualifications developed by the Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQAs) under the auspices of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) will be replaced by programmes aligned to the Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework (OQSF), administered by the QCTO.

New-generation programmes will be curriculum-based and occupationally focused, and comprise three components, namely knowledge, practical training and work experience. Each of the three must account for 20% of credits, with the balance of 40% allocated to the components most relevant to the occupation.

Work that has gone before will not be lost, however, says Fasset Quality Assurance Manager, Marlie Spencer, as current unit standards-based and outcomes-based qualifications are being realigned by the QCTO. She offers the following insights into the implications of the changes:

  • Providers wishing to offer the new qualifications will have to apply directly to the QCTO for accreditation, as current accreditation with a Seta or professional body will not be automatically transferred or recognised by the council. However, summative assessments on qualifications will not be done by providers, but by an assessment quality partner (AQP) appointed by the QCTO. 'As there may be misalignment between the scope of delivery and the scope of assessment, providers must liaise closely with AQPs,' Marlie stresses.
  • Unit standards of current qualifications will expire, affecting accreditation of short-course provision. The QCTO provides for part-qualifications, but currently only those with a minimum of 24 credits or 240 notional hours of training. Four-credit short courses such as Microsoft Excel or income tax calculation will not comply and will not be accredited at this stage
  • For QCTO accreditation, providers need to prove access to employers willing to host learners for qualification completion. This indicates the need for close collaboration between providers and employers to ensure that the process is qualification-specific, but not so prescriptive as to exclude employers from providing opportunities.
  • It might be the QCTO's intention that all new qualifications will be automatically registered as learnerships, which will enable greater participation by employers, who will enjoy all the well-known benefits of learnerships.
  • Employers will need workplace accreditation for every learnership associated with a new qualification. It is unclear whether this will be through the QCTO or a Seta, but Fasset employers are already comfortable with this process as it is compulsory for professional qualifications (and, by implication, learnerships).
  • Those with current qualifications will retain them, their certificates will remain valid and their records will be retained by SAQA.
  • Learners still studying will either be able to complete their current qualification or transfer to the new qualification, depending on the changes to and status of the qualification.
Workplace-based learning is a key focus area of the integrated post-school education and training system for which Fasset strives, says Marlie, but the changing landscape will require some adjustment. 'The importance of experiential learning is well-researched and -documented, but it must consider the needs of all participating stakeholders,' she explains. 'Setas, providers, employers and learners have to be flexible and responsive to realise the QCTO's vision.

'Fasset looks forward to joining with stakeholders to navigate the road ahead and uncover new opportunities.'


She hails from Monte Christo and she makes each moment count. Merriam Mosebedi is one of Ernst&Young (EY) Johannesburg's newest talent acquisitions, following a journey that took her far from her roots in the small Limpopo village that carries the name of the island immortalised in Alexander Dumas's literary classic.

Merriam travelled to Pretoria at a young age to live with her elder sister. She completed her schooling at Hoerskool Voortrekker in 2012 and enrolled at Tshwane North College for an N6 in human resources. It was a career choice that made perfect sense, she says. 'I love working with people. I am a good listener, patient and a problem solver. My favourite activity is interviews, with me as the interviewer rather than the interviewee.'

The completion of her course in mid-2015 heralded a stressful period of applying for jobs and receiving no feedback. 'Then a friend told me about the Fasset TVET work-based experiential learning programme and advised me to apply to EY,' she says.

She settled apprehensively into the interviewee's chair, but it was an event she pulled it off in her usual confident style. 'After my interview in February 2016, I joined EY as a member of the tax talent team assisting with end-to-end recruitment, human resource administration and employee queries. She was in her element as interviewer, as she was able to put her instinct for accurately judging character to the test in unmasking any attempts by prospective recruits to hoodwink the interview panel.

It was a quality EY didn't want to lose, so when her work-experience programme ended in August 2017, the company immediately signed her up as an associate in its People Advisory Services: Immigration department.

She couldn't be happier. 'I'm thoroughly enjoying dealing with global clients and with people moving to or from South Africa,' she says.

Apart from gaining as much experience as possible in the immigration field, Merriam plans to add an exciting new sub-plot to her latest chapter, by registering with Unisa to further her human resources studies.

If all goes according to plan, the girl from Monte Christo will become a high-flyer in the profession in the near future, an opportunity for which she is extremely grateful. So much so that she recently shared her thoughts on an email to Fasset. 'Had you guys not believed in me, I wouldn't be where I am today,' it read. 'I will forever be thankful.

'Continue the good work that you do. I pray that God blesses your programme and makes it a huge success forever.'