Scarce Skills lead to Jobs... So what do I Study?

Scarce Skills lead to Jobs... So what can I study to get these scarce skills?

I recently wrote about Scarce Skills in the finance sector, and how that shows us what skills / jobs / positions are in high demand.

Jesse Green also wrote about Scarce Skills recently, here.

Now that you know about scarce skills, how can you use this knowledge to get you a job or a promotion?

Which jobs are we talking about?

I am going to concentrate on finance-related jobs, because I work in an organisation that offers training in these areas. The kind of jobs where South Africa have a shortage of skilled people are: Trainee Accountant, Debt Collector, Finance Manager, Management Consultant, Office Administrator, General Accountant, General Clerk, Accounts Clerk and Payroll Clerk.

These positions have been identified by FASSET (the SETA for Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and other Financial Services), in their Scarce Skills Guide 2015.

Of course there are many more scarce skills. For this article I am just focussing on the ones I listed.

Bookkeeping and Accounting

Looking at the jobs I listed, you will see most of them relates to bookkeeping and accounting. It is a well-known fact that we have a shortage of people working in bookkeeping and accounting positions.

In fact, in 2012 these positions was consistently in the top ten positions that companies reported they had difficulty in filling.

This affects not only private business, but also government departments. For government departments, both national as well as local and municipal government, to get a “clean audit”, requires qualified, trained and experienced people with financial skills.

What Qualifications?

You can start an ICB (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers) qualification at below-matric level. This means that entrance to the course is easy. The ICB offers a range of Bookkeeping and Accounting qualifications. These qualifications are accredited by FASSET. And in South Africa you will find that most employers know and recognise the ICB.

The ICB qualifications are offered by classroom-based colleges, as well as by home study colleges and academies. This makes it accessible to full-time students, as well as to working adults who need to study while they also have a full-time job in the daytime.

Still at school?

If you are still at school, and you are thinking of making a career out of bookkeeping or accounting, then you need to study mathematics, science and bookkeeping. Yes, these may be the more “difficult” subjects, but they lead to rewarding careers!

With the right subjects and a good Matric pass, you can go to University and study a B.Com. degree, or one of the other degrees that leads to accounting as a career. At the highest level, this leads to being qualified as a chartered accountant.

You must do your utmost to get the best Matric you can. Good matric result opens many doors for you.

Failed Matric, or you don't have the “right” subjects for Matric?

If you do not have a matric certificate with the “right” subjects, then you can still make a career our of your interest in finance and bookkeeping.

The ICB courses I mentioned can be studied part time, or through home study. So don't give up just because you did not do that well at school.

I work with adults learners. Most of them have to work and study at the same time. And I can see how much better people study when they have had a few years to gain life experience and work experience.

Often you struggle with subjects at school because you are not really interested in what you study. But when you choose studies as an adult, you choose a course that is truly your interest. As an adult you also better understand what you will get back for all the effort you put into your studies. When you know your qualification can get you promoted, or a better job, then it is easier to stay focussed on those studies!

Office Administration

In the FASSET list of scarce skills jobs, you will also find Office Administrator and General Clerk. The days when “secretary” was a low-level, low paying job, is over.

Today we call these people Office Administrators. And they are often the heart that keeps the organisation going. These are the people that make sure the organisational operations function successfully day after day.

They are responsible for a wide range of tasks... from things as simple as doing administrative tasks (filing, typing, basic research), to complex responsibilities like heading up Operational Departments in bigger companies.

An Office Administration qualification from the ICB gives you a well-rounded background in all the general management areas of a company. It can set you on the path to management with jobs like Administrative Manager, Office Manager or even Public Relations Manager. So it will help you see all the different career path options in front of you.

The academic level of your qualification

According to the FASSET Scarce Skills Guide, in the finance sector 99,2% of the workforce holds qualifications at NQF 4 / Matric level and above. The majority (68,6%) of the employees have post-school qualifications.

So you need Matric. And you need to study further after Matric.

If you don't have matric, these ICB qualifications can take you from NQF 3 level (one year below Matric), up to NQF 6 level (two years higher than Matric).

With the entry level of these courses at NQF3 level, it means you can start them without having a Matric.

How to get qualified

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) qualifications offer a way in for anybody. If you don't have matric (like the majority of South Africans), then you can start at NQF3 level. You can work you way up from there. The highest qualification you can achieve is NQF level 6. That is a qualification two levels higher than matric.

Two of the top qualifications are:

  1. National Diploma: Financial Accounting

  2. National Diploma: Office Administration

So there is a way for students who never complete matric, to get accredited, recognised qualifications at NQF6 or National Diploma level.

I work for Skills Academy. We are one of many colleges who offer these qualifications in conjunction with the ICB. We are a Home Study College, so we help people who need to work and study at the same time.

Here is our ICB Bookkeeping and Accounting Qualifications page.

Here is our ICB Office Administration Qualifications page. :

About the Author:

Jan Badenhorst works as the CEO of Skills Academy. Skills Academy offers Home Study Courses to people who never completed Matric, or who cannot get entry into Universities.

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