Accountants Brainstorm on Future

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The Deputy Minister of Finance Tjikero Tweya has urged professionals in the accounting industry in the country to double up their efforts to assist Government in training more youth in this crucial sector. Such an effort would alleviate the existing shortage of human expertise in this sector, while improving the effectiveness of the public and private sectors, which are largely dependent on the quality of accounting systems today. Tweya said this when he officially opened the workshop on “Career Pathways for the Accounting Professions in Namibia,” at a local hotel in Windhoek last week. The daylong workshop was attended by close to 70 accounting professionals from both the public and private sectors. Discussions were primarily centred around the different career pathways in the accounting profession, with specific emphasis on the quality of education, the supply and demand of qualified people in this field and most importantly the future needs of all role players in the accounting profession. The acute shortage of technical and managerial skills, like in many other sectors, is also affecting the accountancy profession due to the previous education system. “Namibia is still dealing with a disjointed system that previously denied many Namibians access to higher education opportunities , which created a huge backlog of highly needed professionals such as qualified accountants, engineers (and) architects,” explained Tweya further. Since independence, education and training has always been receiving the lion’s share of the national budget but there is still room for improvement with regard to skills training and education. “Education (in particular higher education) must not only review knowledge but create it, it must not only equip people to fill jobs, but also assist in creating them; it must not only close the development gap but leap forward with new ideas and practices. Only then will it contribute to poverty alleviation and wealth creation,” said Tweya. In light of the unethical conduct of accountants in the United States recently the deputy minister said that local accountants must bear in mind that they have an additional responsibility towards society by being ethical at all times. It is only in this way that they can make a meaningful contribution towards the country’s economic development. The latest workshop was therefore geared towards strengthening the partnership between Government and education and business sectors. He concluded by saying that with the ever changing scenario among accountancy professionals there is a great need for more professionals capable in accounting skills and knowledge to improve on their companies’ performances and overall national economic drive. Speaking at the same occasion, Director of the National Qualifications Authority (NQA) Franz Gertze said that there are still numerous challenges facing the sector. These range from problems in attracting professional accountants to universities, opportunities for obtaining work experience or work attachment for academic staff, finding a proper blend of practitioners and academics in the faculty and the issue of remuneration packages. Thus over the years the NQA has undertaken extensive restructuring and transformation processes to address the past social imbalances and stimulate economic growth. It is against this background that the NQA hosted this workshop aimed at bringing all relevant stakeholders in accounting together in order to discuss the education and training of such experts. Gertze said that there is a need to change the current curriculum that tends to over- concentrate on core accounting subjects. “There is an urgent need to review the education curriculum to give more weight to the learning of management communication and analytical skills. There are essential attributes in a knowledge-based and highly competitive business world – one that Namibia strives to become by Vision 2030,” he explained. With the fast changing business environment due to globalisation such an approach is critical in order for Namibia to be on par with the rest of the world. At the end of the workshop participants were required to come up with concrete findings that would help pave the way forward for the accountancy industry.