Upskilling the future of the financial and accounting services sector
The Financial and Accounting Services Seta has a message for the industry: It is ready to fulfil their sectoral training needs and has been conducting research to ensure that it has the capability to do so.
The Financial and Accounting Services Sector Education Training Authority (Fasset) is a training partner to businesses in the financial, management consulting and accounting industry; with the aim to address skills gaps. This is the message that Fasset Chairman Njabulo Ngwenya wants to share with the financial services industry. “We are a professional organisation delivering high-level skills for the sector, and we’re available and willing to help,” says Njabulo.
Fasset’s mandate is to influence the effective operation of the labour market, through the supply of scarce and critical skills, so as to ensure the competence of labour necessary to compare in the global economy.” The finance and accounting sector is a significant contributor to the economy, being the largest employer of people with financial management, accounting and auditing skills. In the Seta’s Sector Skills Plan report concluded in 2018, it has confirmed that more than 163,000 people worked in that sector.
Njabulo says that Fasset is actively tracking the evolution of the accounting and financial services industry considering impact made by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and is investing money in aligning with the skills that are required for the future of the sector.
Fasset adopts a skills pipeline approach, providing support to learners at school level, throughout their university or professional body studies, and current employees, through grants and Lifelong Learning events. From career awareness initiatives to the development of new graduates, Fasset strives to create an employable future for the learners and graduates entering its industry. With a focus on the continuous professional development of learners, and a passion for ensuring soft skills and work readiness, the Seta drives various skills development programmes to fulfil its objectives.
To assist learners with placement into employment, Fasset runs the following programmes: TVET Workplace-Based Experience (WBE) programme, the Learner Employment Grant (LEG), and the Non-PIVOTAL Learner Employment Grant (NLEG). As the placement of learners is cited as essential in the National Skills Development Plan, this is an area of great focus.
In addition to placement, Fasset backs learners through academic support. This is achieved through various bridging programmes, linked to the top 10 scarce skills in our sector, and include: Qualification/Designation Bridging Programmes; the Fasset Bursary Scheme; Bursary Grant (BG); NSFAS Loan Repayment Grant (NLRG); and NSFAS Bursaries.
R330 million has been earmarked by Fasset for Professional, Vocational, Technical and Academic Learning (PIVOTAL) projects, of which two thirds will be invested in academic support for the completion of an academic qualification or designation. Njabulo explains that this will benefit 3,035 individuals. Of these, the Bursary Scheme will take the lion’s share of academic support, assisting 2 162 students.
“It’s a big game changer. Beneficiaries can register with professional bodies such as SAIPA, SAICA or ACCA among others. Once candidates register with these bodies, their chances of employment are significantly improved. This is quite important in contributing to solving the unemployment crisis in the country and fulfilling our mandate as FASSET,” says Njabulo. The Fasset Bursary Scheme awarded 872 unemployed learners as reported in the 2018/2019 Annual Report.
Fasset may adjust its strategy in line with current trends, an ever-evolving sector, or alterations in the legislative framework; but at its heart the aim to drive transformation, promote workplace readiness and support learners in the sector remains steadfast. With the announcement made by the President to support the YES programme, with the aim of creating one million jobs for South Africa’s youth; Fasset will seek out groundbreaking ways through innovation and technological best practice to support the programme
Njabulo’s own skills background
Njabulo is a Chartered Accountant (SA) by profession, who started off his career at Deloitte in the financial services team 13 years ago. After completing articles, Njabulo worked for large multinational financial institutions in the banking, wealth management, asset management and payments industries. His exposure with these multinational organisations in South Africa and the rest of Africa have sharpened his leadership style focused on people development and organisational performance.
These roles – running finance teams, overseeing governance, converting strategy into numbers – all prepared Ngwenya for his next role, that of being the chairperson of the Fasset Board. “I am basically in charge of our strategy, working with our CEO on the execution, and looking after governance within the entity. Because Fasset is a public entity, governance is even more important than it was in any of my other roles and takes up quite a lot of my time.” He is pleased to report that last year, Fasset’s organisational performance and governance turned around under his watch.