Yvonne chats to: SAICA about RPL for Articles

SAICA RPL
Table of Contents

Why did I chat to SAICA about RPL?

I had a chat a while back with Gareth Olivier from CA Connect, “Should you start your qualification journey if you’re older”. For a lot of people, the information around how their articles / training contracts will work, is the dealbreaker for this decision. 

Once you’re working, have a few, or a lot of year’s experience, it’s incredibly tough to start your articles. Not only will your salary drop, but it’s really tough to be a first year clerk when you’re not in your early 20’s anymore! We have an idea that this is the age you should do articles at, and so we don’t want to go back to this if we can avoid it.

So, I chatted to SAICA about what your options are in terms of getting recognition for work experience, getting exemption from articles altogether. You may find some info you’ve been looking for.

 

(If you enjoyed this, want us to chat about something else, or want more of these types of chats, please leave a comment at the bottom of the post)

What is 'RPL'?

I chatted to Tonia Jackson, who is responsible the Training Programme for SAICA to discuss RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) and Exemptions.

RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) focusses on the work experience you have. It is not related to your studies or academics. 

You can apply for RPL if you’ve worked at a training office before (ie: You’ve served some of your articles / training contract), or if you’ve worked somewhere else and believe that you obtained relevant work experience.

(If you enjoyed this, want us to chat about something else, or want more of these types of chats, please leave a comment at the bottom of the post)

RPL - The maximum reduction of Articles

If your RPL is recognised, you can get a maximum of 12 months off of your articles / training contract.

An alternative approach if you feel that you have the relevant work experience to have all of your articles ‘waived’, is to apply for ‘Exemption’ (More on this later)

Who does the RPL assessment?

SAICA does not do the RPL assessment. This is done by the relevant person in the training office that you join for your articles/ training contract.

This means that you cannot apply and have your RPL application completed and assessed without starting your training contract.

People ask me if they can apply for RPL and await the outcome before they resign from their jobs, so they know how much time their training contracts will be reduced by. The short answer is no.

What is the 'Exemption' Route?

This is a process whereby candidates can apply to SAICA to give them exemption from their training contract / articles in entirety.

This requires a minimum of 72 months of relevant work experience, and pass ITC (The first SAICA Board Exam).

Tonia’s advice is to finish the studying up to the ITC before applying for this process. 

What is required for the Exemption Route?

I asked Tonia what common challenges she comes across with candidates who apply for exemptions.

You need a portfolio to prove your Exemption application

SAICA has a very structured and formal process. Their applications include comprehensive lists of the competencies that you need to meet. This means that you can go through the application forms before applying, which will give you a much better idea of where you stand in this process.

What are 'competencies' and how are they measured?

Every article clerk needs to have their competencies signed off on before they’re ‘finished’ with their training contract. They are rated on a scale of 1 – 4, you can see how that works here.

There’s a handy ‘decision tree‘ on SAICA’s website to help assess what level you’re on for different competencies

People who wish to get exemption from this need to prove they’re able to meet the same competencies. 

Tonia explains what competencies are, and how they work.

Does SAICA contact past employers? When can I apply?

You need to provide ‘proof’ of your ability to ‘do’ the competencies that you’re looking for exemption from. 

This makes it almost impossible for you to apply for exemption while you’re working somewhere, without your employer knowing this.

SAICA has two windows a year for these applications.

Your electives are dictated by your training office

If you look at SAICA’s competencies that need to be signed off on, there are ‘electives’ and ‘residuals’. Electives are your ‘major’ competencies (eg: Audit or Tax).

Identify what elective you want, and choose a firm that offers those electives.

Advice if you're thinking of not doing articles and applying for exemption later

Remember also that SAICA’s competencies change as well. 

Exemptions - If you have another qualification

SAICA has reciprocity agreements with different professional bodies (eg: CIMA, ACCA, ICAEW etc.

SAICA needs to ensure that anyone with the CA(SA) qualification is able to meet the competency requirements. The RPL and Exemption process is not to exclude people from the profession, but to ensure that people can prove their competency.

SAICA needs to prove competency

SAICA needs to ensure that anyone with the CA(SA) qualification is able to meet the competency requirements. The RPL and Exemption process is not to exclude people from the profession, but to ensure that people can prove their competency.

If you’re not sure about whether you meet the competency requirements for Exemption, get those application forms from SAICA, and you can assess for yourself. 

Email: saica@saica.co.za

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