Beating down the door to find opportunities

Actively involved in facilitating skills upliftment opportunities for the young South Africans within the Finance and Accounting sector, we invited Fasset CEO, Cheryl James, to write this week’s guest blog.

In my role as CEO of Fasset (the Seta for Finance and Accounting Services) I interact with a lot of young South Africans countrywide.

I recently came across a quote by Kyle Chandler, which got me thinking: “Opportunity does not knock; it presents itself when you beat down the door.” I agree fully with this sentiment. However, two questions arise: are young South Africans beating down the door to find opportunities; and where do these opportunities lie?

I am not convinced that young South Africans are necessarily beating down the door to find opportunities. However, I know for a fact that there are wonderful opportunities for young South Africans in Finance and Accounting. The fact that South Africa needs an additional 22 000 accountants speaks for itself.

Unfortunately, young South Africans often look at career opportunities through a very narrow lens. They see university as the only option, instead of viewing this as one of many options. Young South Africans need to explore all options including entry-level learnerships, Bridging Programmes to improve marks in Mathematics, enabling candidates to gain admission to tertiary education, Seta skills upliftment initiatives, FET offerings and internships.

Every business, including SMMEs, every government department, every NGO, every Civic Organisation, every school, the list is endless, needs finance and accounting skills. These organisations also require different types of accounting and finance-related skills, including accounting technicians, debt recovery agents, tax accountants, forensic accountants, and so on. Young South Africans need to explore the wide range of accounting and finance-related options that are available to them.

Volunteering has never really caught on in South Africa. It is however, well-entrenched in the US. In 2012, 26,5% of Americans volunteered to do voluntary (unpaid) work at least once during the course of the year, compared to 18.9% of young Americans in the 20-24 age group. Would young South African volunteers even appear on the radar?

Beating down the door to find opportunities, includes volunteering. For those interested in a career in finance or accounting, it means volunteering to do unpaid finance or accounting work in schools, places of worship, community organisations, clinics, hospitals, small businesses. While the organisation benefits from an additional pair of hands, the volunteer gets an opportunity to hone her skills and obtain work experience. Who knows, she may so impress that she is offered a permanent, salaried position. The challenge remains: young South Africans need to beat down the door themselves to find opportunities.

Cheryl James
Fasset CEO

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