Young professional gets a career boost from PSETA


One of the organisations enabling young professionals in the public sector to acquire professional accounting designations is the Public Service Education and Training Authority (PSETA). In their last intake of learnerships (2018/2019) for graduates and professionals in the public sector one lucky young lady, Asanda Nojilana, saw her career get a boost after she applied for a learnership to pursue the Accounting Technician [AT(SA)] professional accounting designation offered by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).

Decent work and employment creation are some of the integral elements of the United Nations’ (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. These goals aim to address global challenges such as poverty and inequality, among others. This ties in with SAICA’s ongoing efforts of encouraging the professionalisation of financial offices in private and public sector organisations like the PSETA through its [AT(SA)] and Associate General Accountant [AGA(SA)] designations. Here is Nojilana’s story:

Nojilana (23), who hails from King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape, recalls hearing from a friend in 2018 about a one-year AT(SA) and AGA(SA) learnership offered by the Eastern Cape’s Department of Treasury. “I went there to find out about it and applied. There were other learners who also applied, but did not make it. I was fortunate to make it onto the programme.”

She reflects on how she thought her post-matric studies — a policing diploma — would be her only hope of making a living until the AT(SA) learnership changed her perspective and gave her more encouragement about her future. “The learnership was not as hard as I had expected. I was excited and knew that in order for me to change my life, and improve my career, I had to challenge myself to work hard and ensure I reached the 70% target marks in the learnership.”

Towards the end of her learnership in 2019, a permanent vacancy opened up in the Eastern Cape’s Department of Sport. She took a leap of faith and applied for the position. Eventually, she got the position, and she’s now a permanent employee of the department working as an Accounting Clerk in cash management, thanks to the AT(SA) learnership and qualification. She expresses her gratitude to the PSETA and the National Treasury for giving her a boost in her career. “I am grateful to now have work experience and a professional accounting designation that can open more opportunities for me in future. I would love to grow even further in the finance space.”

She encourages those with a passion in public sector finance and accounting to apply for the learnership programme offered by PSETA. “Once you’ve been selected, commit yourself to the programme and work hard. It gives you experience, which in turns opens doors for you in your career,” says Nojilana.

Explaining the rationale of funding projects like the AT(SA) learnership, Minah Kgadile, Learning Programme Officer at PSETA, says that it is the National Treasury’s commitment to give unemployed graduates a head start in their careers. This contributes to government’s developmental goals as well as objectives: “As part of our public administration learnership, the National Treasury identified the need to give unemployed graduates who have a finance and accounting background an opportunity to apply for the learnership programme. We as PSETA assisted with the funding and rolling out of the programme.”

Kgadile says that the funding of the last intake of the learnership was R4.5-million. Over 100 unemployed learners were funded from Limpopo and the Eastern Cape (50 per province) in the last intake of 2019. Of the 100, only 60 completed the programme. She adds that PSETA also facilitates training for officials already employed by the National Treasury and wishing to pursue professional accounting designations such as the AT(SA) and AGA(SA).

This commitment is a true example of how organisations can collaborate to create decent work and employment in line with the UN’s 2030 Agenda.

What is an AT(SA)?

AT(SA) is a recognised and respected competency-based accounting qualification offered by SAICA. It is job-related, application-driven and meets the need for sound accounting and financial skills in the workplace. With ATs(SA), employers get the assurance and benefit of high quality, practical accounting skills — adding real value in finance teams.

In essence, AT(SA) is a mark of professional competence. Once trained, bearers of the designation show a solid understanding and practical application of accounting and finance skills. As a foundation phase qualification, these professionals play a key support role in finance and business, competently working across all sectors of the economy to improve organisational productivity and efficiency. The qualification enables accounting technicians to occupy diverse roles such as Accounts Administrator, Payroll Administrator, Debtors/Creditors Clerk, Payroll Assistant and Financial Accountant. 

What is an AGA(SA)?

AGAs(SA) play key managerial roles within diverse sectors of the economy. Professionals who hold this qualification have successfully completed a SAICA accredited degree and a SAICA training contract or assessment to ensure they offer a strong set of technical accounting and financial skills required to navigate today’s complex and evolving business environment. They are technically-minded accountants, who have the ability to bridge operational and strategic management functions. Their expert ability to drive accountancy and financial excellence in organisations enables them to deliver results and accelerate organisational financial performance. 

SAICA’s mid-tier AGA(SA) designation enables finance staff to have stronger technicaland analytical rigour to drive accounting, financial and operational excellence in organisations. They can perform various roles including the compilation of financial statements for companies, act as a Commissioner of Oaths, register as a Tax Practitioner and perform independent reviews.


SAICA, South Africa’s pre-eminent accountancy body, is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading accounting institutes. The Institute provides a wide range of support services to more than 46 000 members and associates who are chartered accountants [CAs(SA)], as well as associate general accountants (AGAs(SA)) and accounting technicians (ATs(SA)), who hold positions as CEOs, MDs, board directors, business owners, chief financial officers, auditors and leaders in every sphere of commerce and industry, and who play a significant role in the nation’s highly dynamic business sector and economic development. Chartered Accountants are highly valued for their versatile skill set and creative lateral thinking, that’s why the top 100 Global Brands all employ Chartered Accountants, according to CAW, 2020 — Interbrand, Best Global Brands 2019.


The Public Service Education and Training Authority (PSETA) is one of the 21 Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) established in terms of section 9(1) and (2) of the Skills Development Act (No 97 of 1998 as amended). The Skills Development Act is the enabling legislation and guides our operations as a Sector Education and Training Authority, as set out in section 10 of the Act.

PSETA’s primary strategic imperative is building the skills required for a capable, skilled and developmental state. The scope of coverage includes National and Provincial governments departments, identified Public Entities, and Parliament and Provincial Legislatures. The focus and emphasis of the PSETA is primarily on transversal skills i.e. functions of administration, management, planning legislation, policy administration, monitoring and evaluation.

The training authority carries out critical functions of the development of a Sector Skills Plan, quality assurance of training carried out in the public service, accreditation of training providers such as the National School of Government, development of qualifications and learning programmes among other functions as provided for in the Skills Development Act.

PSETA is also responsible for 48 government trades and therefore have a critical role to play in the development of artisans and promotion of apprenticeships as required by NSDS III. The PSETA has initiated partnerships with INDLELA (National Artisan Development Support Centre) as a quality assurance partner and other key SETAs in the development of trades and artisans.

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