A GROUP of 40 newly-qualified chartered accountants, professional accountants, internal auditors and government auditors will be recognised for the strides they have made at a ceremony in Bloemfontein on Saturday, 23 July. The group of 25 men and 15 women will be honoured by the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants in South Africa (Abasa), which has branches in the nine provinces of South Africa. Siseko Tose, acting vice-chairperson of Abasa in the Free State, says the candidates to be honoured have all studied and are working in the Free State. He says the objective of honouring the 40 candidates is three-fold: to facilitate and encourage the entry of blacks into the accounting profession, identify and work for the removal of conditions which are detrimental to the professional well-being of black accountants and to create awareness of the objectives and ideals of the association and accounting profession in the black community.Tose says the drive is in the wake of the high demand for black chartered accountants. He says black chartered accountants are currently estimated to number around 10 000. “There was an increase of 615% in the number of black chartered accountants, from 1 352 in January 2002 to 9 674 in February 2016. So, black people are definitely breaking through boundaries in this industry, with more and more black-owned accounting and auditing firms coming, such as Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo and Sekela Xabiso, just to name a few of the big names.” He says that current statistics show an increase in the number of local accountants over a 14-year period, to nearly 40 000 .Tose says that 1 286 black candidates are part of the total of 2 396 candidates who passed the assessment of professional competence of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica). He says the finding by the Talent Shortage Survey for South Africa shows that accounting and finance staff are among the top-ten positions that employers in South Africa are having difficulty filling.