UJ, SAICA readying CA’s for relevance in fourth industrial revolution

In his 2019 inauguration speech, President Ramaphosa said Africa is poised once again to rise, to assume its place among the free and equal nations of the world. “We must use that innovative talent that originated in Africa to embrace and use the fourth Industrial Revolution to develop Africa and create jobs for the youth and empower the women of our continent.”

In embracing 4IR, SAICA and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) heeded to this call on 22 May 2019, and launched an exciting first-of-its-kind online short learning programmes to equip accountants with skills to navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

4IR for Accountants- is the first suite of four courses designed especially for CAs (SA) to assist them in their lifelong learning journey to adapt to the interconnected technological world we live in today. This fully fledged online course provides an introduction to the Fourth Industrial Revolution by exploring key topics within this realm. These topics include Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Blockchain and Ethics.

The prestigious launch was held at the UJ Council Chambers and attended by VC – Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, DVC Academic – Prof Angina Parekh, CFO – Mrs Nolwazi Mamorare, Prof Daneel Van Lill, Prof Rory Ryan and other members of the Executive Leadership Group of UJ.

Also in attendance was SAICA board member Mr Shaun Osner as well as Prof Suresh Kana and Dr Sizwe Nxasana, who have honorary doctorates from UJ and are advisory board members of SAICA.

SAICA executives included Mr Freeman Nomvalo (CEO), Ms Chantyl Mulder (Executive Director: Nation-building), Mr Willi Coates (Head of Marketing and Communication) and senior staff from SAICA. Other guests included Professor of Practice from SoA, Prof Graham Terry, Prof Ben Marx (HoD – Department of Accountancy), other HoDs and representatives from other universities, friends and staff of the School of Accounting and the greater UJ community.

During the keynote address, UJ’s Prof Tshilidzi Marwala shared his insights into the technologies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He touched on various technologies as well as concepts such as Machine Learning and Computational Intelligence. He also explored how the Fourth Industrial Revolution impacts market efficiency, economics, finance and political science. In conclusion, the consequences of 4IR in the future were discussed, with Prof Marwala noting that UJ is a leading institution in Africa with regard to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Also speaking was Ms Chantyl Mulder, who stressed the importance of continuous professional development for SAICA members. She noted that the new course would allow members to gain deeper insights into a topic. Lastly, Ms Mulder thanked the UJ team for all their efforts. Prof Amanda Dempsey, (Senior Director – School of Accounting) provided insights into the process that was followed to design the course. Prof Dempsey stated this this course was designed like no other course within the institution and was truly ground-breaking.

The design is a self-paced 100% online Short Learning Programme (SLP) for SAICA CPD. The SLP is driven by competencies that directly relate to SAICA’s 2025 vision for a CA(SA).

Prof Dempsey highlighted that a potential student could complete the application and registration process within 10 minutes. She went on to explain that engineers, Prof Babu Paul and Dr Wesley Doorsamy, created the technical aspects of the SLP while Mr Husain Coovadia brought in the perspective of accountants. Lastly, Prof Dempsey thanked SAICA, and specifically Ms Chantyl Mulder, for initiating this innovative course. She also thanked various UJ staff members who made the course a reality, particularly Prof Ben Marx, for his ongoing support.

Mr Husain Coovadia (Senior Lecturer – School of Accounting) provided insights into the various topics covered by the course. He emphasised that it was an inter-disciplinary course, which meant that topics had both a technical and business focus. Mr Coovadia also gave a demonstration of the course to the audience and thanked all the staff who played a role in creating the SLP. UJ is proud of its partnership with SAICA in helping accountants to discover how to future-proof their careers as finance professionals by embracing the skills needed to navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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