oa Meditari : Research Journal of the School of Accounting Sciences - Views of black trainee accountants in South Africa on matters related to a career as a chartered accountant
Against a backdrop of only 337 black chartered accountants in a total of approximately 20 000 in South Africa in 2003, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) is reviewing its current transformation targets for 2005. Information was required to review the obstacles that black trainees in general and accountants in particular experience en route to qualifying. <br>Accounting as a career was investigated from a theoretical point of view. A questionnaire was designed, which focused mainly on problems and barriers in respect of career guidance; funding and bursaries; role models in the profession; knowledge of the profession; and exposure to business. The questionnaire was distributed to all 755 black trainee accountants that were registered with SAICA. A total of 313 questionnaires were returned, representing a response rate of 41, 45%.
A lack of knowledge about the chartered accountancy profession and careers related to the profession was identified as one of the main reasons for the small number of blacks in the profession. Career guidance at school was stated as the main contributing factor in this regard. A lack of funding and of bursaries was stated as the second most important reason why students do not choose a career in accounting. Other important barriers identified include the limited nature of the work given to trainee accountants to do and the resulting limited work experience that they gain; a lack of black mentors in firms; racial bias on the part of supervisors; and a lack of recognition of and respect for the work completed.
Black trainee accountants suggest that academic support programmes should be introduced to assist them to prepare for examinations, a forum should be established for students of Accounting in which they can interact with accounting professionals through workshops; a network group of professional black mentors in the business sector should be formed; and the advancement and retention of black members within the profession should be encouraged. Awareness programmes should be accorded a high priority in the short term.
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