Graduating is a big deal

Head of ACCA SA, Nadine Kater is committed to lifelong learning. Nadine knows from personal experience that ‘graduating is a big deal.’

As the end of the year approaches thousands of students worldwide are really looking forward to graduating. Graduating is a ‘big deal;’ it is a huge achievement and an occasion, which one will remember with pride for the rest of one’s life.

Acquiring an education is a great privilege; acquiring a tertiary education is an even greater privilege. Placed in perspective, the global average for holding a college degree, or the equivalent thereof, is only around 6.7%. So, whether you are obtaining an undergraduate degree, or a professional body qualification, it is important to recognise that you are part of a very small group of individuals worldwide, who hold tertiary qualifications at this level.

Completing a degree or a professional body qualification requires hundreds of hours of hard work, dedication and commitment. Being a lifelong learner myself, I am the first to acknowledge that there have been times when I too, have been tempted to ‘throw in the towel.’

Studying requires personal sacrifice; studying part-time, as many ACCA students do, is very difficult. It takes a great deal of self-discipline and personal sacrifice to study in the evening after a hard day at the office, or to get up very early, to study before going to work.

American actress of film, television and theatre, Bette Davis famously said: “Growing old is not for sissies;” I am inclined to add: “Studying part-time, as many ACCA students do is not for sissies.”

Completing a qualification attests to the fact that an individual has ‘staying power.’ This is very important. The ability to see things through shows tremendous strength of character and personal discipline, attributes, which employers truly value. It also shows ambition; this is something that employers also, look for when hiring.

There is very good news for finance and accounting graduates; there is a high demand for these skills worldwide. In South Africa, skills shortages of around 22 000 accountants have been reported; within the public sector 34% of financial cadre positions are vacant, making employment prospects for individuals graduating with finance and accounting-related skills exceptional.

Futurist, Alvin Toffler reminds us that: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

I would like to caution finance and accounting graduates that while Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is an on-going professional requirement, it is not enough. The world is looking for a new kind of an accountant, an accountant with an enormous breadth and depth of skills, competence and knowledge. As new graduates, I urge you to heed Al Rogers’ advice: “In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

To my mind, learners are people, who seize every opportunity throughout their entire life, to broaden and deepen their skills, competence and knowledge.

Nadine Kater
Head of ACCA SA

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