Both working full-time and studying full-time are feats…
Looking back at what the role of human resources (HR)
Computing technology is incredible, but people are still accounting’s greatest asset
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) not only has an impact on the types of jobs that are being created, but it is also changing roles within the existing workforce. Some jobs have been replaced by automation, with artificial intelligence simplifying or altering traditional roles as we have always known them, accountancy is no exception.
With the introduction and growth of components such as cloud accountancy to the industry, we no longer require the same human resources and infrastructure of the past. In a Professional Accountant article, Glen Ansell, head of intelligent automation at Tangent, said that they ran a test for an auditing firm to determine whether a sample of invoices was authentic. It took an article clerk one working day to complete the task. In the same amount of time, the robot completed the task 560 times. He did, however, point out that human accountants were crucial when it came to risk analysis, explaining that connected devices had an element of vulnerability which humans could counteract.
Although artificial intelligence can replace or automate many tasks previously requiring human intervention, training, and implementation are key processes that will still be left to humans. At the core, systems need to be programmed by humans, the slightest programming error can result in the machine being unable to identify and resolve the error. Such errors can have a compound effect if there is a delay in identifying them, it can have major ramifications for business. Machines may also be able to do the computing, but they cannot sign off on reports or audits.
Since the role of the human accountant will still be the review and control of calculations, and in the confirmation that the outcomes are correct, accountants of the future will do less of the number crunching and will play more of a strategic role. Future accountants will find themselves responsible for the innovative application of artificial intelligence and will be the problem-solvers in charge of the analysis of information and the application of data. They will need to interpret data that is not related to finances and will need to be able to evaluate components that relate to the business to help guide it in a strategic direction.
Rather than delivering numerical findings, accountants of the future will be more focussed on the process and infrastructure of a business. With information now available at the touch of a button, the accounting landscape will transform from one that is reactive to one that is pro-active. The rise of application programming interfaces (APIs) will provide growing solutions, enabling accountants to select the best available tools, essentially custom-building solutions for their business.
Some things will never change, accountants in the Fourth Industrial Revolution will still require keen numerical skills, but it won’t be enough. To, accountants of the future will need a combination of skills:
1. Strategic Planning
Strategic planning will require goal setting based on data gathered from various business players and systems. Based on this data, decisions will need to be made and resource allocation assigned to ensure business goals are achieved. This is not a simple checklist task, it will require skilled human intuition, and complex knowledge and thinking to manage efficiencies, drive outcomes, and boost productivity where required.
2. Problem Solving
This is the ability to think about complex and abstract problems and finding practical and workable solutions. It is the human ability to look at a problem, evaluating all the possible outcomes, and deciding on the best possible solution.
3. Design Mindset
The ability to create tasks and processes which work together to reach a common, strategic goal. This is a very solution-focused human skill, one that requires a person to look at the past, what was done before, while planning for the future, and finding a way to get there.
4. Social Intelligence and Communication Skills
Understanding numbers is one thing, understanding people is quite another. With machines taking over much of the number crunching, accountants will be expected to have even better social intelligence and communication skills. They will need to know how to be personable and connect with people.
5. Virtual Collaboration
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, many jobs can and are being done remotely, but it takes a special kind of skill for people to work remotely and make the people they work with feel part of a team, part of the bigger picture. Accountants of the future will need to establish themselves as a strong member of the team.
Changing career roles will see accountants thinking more creatively, using their imagination to come up with original, ground-breaking thoughts and ideas, creating solutions which at times may seem far-fetched and out of reach.
7. Cognitive flexibility and load management
This is the ability to consider multiple concepts at the same time, be flexible in the thinking process, and have a sense of discernment regarding the prioritisation of concepts. This means people will need to think about what needs to be done before the next thing can happen. They also need to be able to do mental gymnastics in the sense of changing direction when it is required.
8. Computational thinking
This relates to the ability to understand and interpret data to create abstract concepts from the organisational data that has been gathered. It largely involves people coming up with practical computer solutions and applications which then need to be built and implemented.
The future and the automation of this sector are in the hands of accountants. Those who stay abreast of progress, embrace change, and are excited by the advancement of technology, will eventually be the leaders in their field.
At UJ we believe we are a forerunner in 4IR thinking and we pride ourselves in our ability to deliver highly relevant programmes to meet the ever-changing 4IR landscape – our BCom International Accounting degree is no exception. Click here to learn more about it and to start your accounting journey.
Finding time to relax while studying a demanding degree or diploma can be difficult. Most of the time, procrastination gets in the way and causes you stress when deadlines and assignments need to be met but aren’t. Although procrastination is a common cause of stress, there are others too, such as parental pressure, the balance between working and studying, and personal issues.
It is important that you find ways to reduce stress so that your mind is clear and functional when it comes to exams and assignments. Because we want to see you succeed in your studies, we have created a guide to help you rid yourself of harmful stress.
Be clever with your time
A study plan reduces stress in three ways. Firstly, it gives you time to study systematically so that you don’t have to cram it all in on the night before the exam. Secondly, it shows your progress methodically, allowing you to feel calmer and more confident. Lastly, it gives you the opportunity to plan your free time carefully, meaning you can spend it with your family and friends or by relaxing and enjoying some alone time.
Your health is arguably the biggest asset you can have when you study. Being healthy increases your energy and ensures blood flow to the brain, which is helpful when studying and taking exams. Vitality is essential for effective learning, and to safeguard your wellbeing, there are three important health categories to take note of.
Always be sure to eat a variety of healthy foods that give you a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals. Building your immune system keeps your mind on its toes.
Exercise is an instant stress reliever and a healthy habit. Keep moving and you will leave stress in the dust.
Mental health is a crucial component for everyone, no matter their situation. Make sure you talk to someone about any issues you might be having, whether it is a professional, your family or a close friend.
Know your method
We all have a preferred study method. Different people learn in different ways, such as auditory learning (learning through hearing), visual learning (learning with the use of images), or kinetic learning (learning through physical movement). Finding the best way to study your degree or diploma will help you enjoy what you are studying and reduce the frustration of not being able to memorise the content you’ are learning.
There is power in a pack
Studying with a partner or group is an effective way of staying in the loop of the curriculum you are undertaking. Usually stress arises when you foresee or imagine a situation in an exam where you get a question and think “I don’t remember learning this?” Studying in groups can help eradicate this type of self-doubt, and it will also help when it comes to solving problems or issues you may have with the content in the curriculum.
By following the above guide, you should be able to study with a stress-free mind and body. Remember that stress can be managed with repetition and routine.
We understand that many people deal with stress in different ways and we would love to hear what your biggest causes of stress are and how you manage them.
Best of luck with your studies!
If you have embarked on the online study journey, or you are planning on it, you will expect it to be a bit more challenging than the normal study route simply because you are in charge of your own schedule. There are many challenges that could arise from studying online, so we have outlined a few tips and skills that will ensure the best results for your future self and your career.
Since you don not have to physically attend lectures when studying online and there are no rigid structures in place, you have the luxury of personalising your schedule to suit your needs. You can plan your study times around when you’re most productive in the day (or night). If you’re working and studying concurrently, this is especially handy.
Take note, however, that several aspects of your online studies won’t be that flexible, including live lecture videos, online discussions that occur at designated times and dates, and the deadlines that have been set for assignments. These are usually cast in stone, so it’s important to include them in your schedule first, and then plan the rest of your time around that.
Creating your own study timetable and not having to adhere to strict lecture times is great, but this can also lead to missing important details here and there if you are not following a disciplined approach. If you’ve done your preparation and you’re organised, all that is left to do is to stick to what you have planned for yourself. If you are not working or you have taken a sabbatical, make the workday your study time – treat it like a full-time job – and you’re bound to see the results.
To make being disciplined a little easier for you, effective time management and being organised is important. Working on these skills will only help your future self!
Most online courses or degrees have forums where you can go to chat or discuss everything from assignments to general topics in your study field with other students or lecturers. This would be a similar experience to going to tutorials or chatting to your lecturer after a class, so it’s a good idea to keep tabs on what is happening in these forums.
If you have missed a live lecture because of work or life commitments, you will be able to catch up on this by reviewing the recorded lecture and by chatting to people in these forums.
Studying online can be tough but it can also be a great experience, especially if you are prepared and manage expectations, both yours and others’. Tailor your degree to suit your needs and stay on top of forum discussions and you will be well on your way to completing your degree!
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Careers of the future are built on a technology foundation
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is in full swing and careers of the future will all involve the use of computers, but the sector with the fastest growing potential for job opportunities is by far technology.
According to a report published by The Balance Careers, the seven fastest-growing tech jobs are:
1. Database Administrator
They manage and organise a company’s data and ensure that the data is stored correctly and safely. Database administrators understand database languages such as Oracle, MySQL, MS Access, dBase, and FoxPro.
Projected future growth: 11% by 2026
2. Software Developer
Software developers work with computer programmers to build operating systems for user-facing applications such as word processing and design programs.
Projected future growth: 24% by 2026
3. Web Developer
A web developer uses programming languages to write online software for websites and applications used for social media.
Projected future growth: 15% by 2022
4. Computer Systems Analyst
They investigate computer systems and procedures, finding ways to overhaul and make them better, they also identify glitches and bugs. Computer system analysts understand IT and business, and they consult with managers to learn what the IT needs of a business are.
Projected future growth: 9% by 2026
5. Mobile App Developer
New products and apps are created by mobile app developers. More and more companies across industries are making use apps, every conceivable business or interest group has an app.
Projected future growth: 57% by 2020
6. Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts collect and interpret data to determine what products and services people want and what they are willing to pay. Market researchers come from a variety of backgrounds, such as statistics, maths, or computer science, business administration, social sciences, and communications. They are the people who tell marketers what to sell to whom.
Projected future growth: 32% by 2022
7. Information Security Analyst
They are the people who coordinate and implement the protection of an organisation’s computer networks and systems.
Projected future growth: 28% by 2026
Why taking a tech job is good for South Africa
The growth of the tech sector has more advantages than just being a job opportunity for many. The industry can benefit South Africa in a very real way, making it a safer and more pleasant place to be. Alan Knott-Craig, in an article published on BizCommunity, says the 4IR can change South Africa in these very tangible ways:
1. Better behaviour
People tend to behave better if they think they are being watched. Cameras on roads and in suburbs have already seen people behaving better, at the risk and fear of being exposed or caught.
2. Connect faster
With the internet and social media connections, it is much easier to find like-minded friends or even start a relationship. Social justice issues also come under the attention of the masses much quicker and it tends to build a bridge between communities.
3. Accessible education
The internet is providing access to information that was previously limited to people with access to research books and libraries. Now, anyone with an internet connection can expand their own education, formally or informally.
4. Safer streets
CCTV cameras and communal Wi-Fi cameras will help the police identify criminals using biometrics, and can help to track them down before they commit any further crimes
5. Better democracy
Technology is changing policymaking to be more adaptive, human-centred, inclusive, sustainable, and increasingly frictionless. Public participation across the board has also improved, thanks to the internet and social media ensuring that news spreads quickly.
6. Get healthier
The health trackers that many people already wear, will lead the way. In time, doctors and hospitals will monitor your health remotely.
7. Better travel
Smartphone navigation apps such as Google Maps and Waze are already helping us avoid heavy traffic and accidents on the roads, and in years to come driverless cars will do that. Our productivity will increase, and our insurance premiums will decrease.
8. More things
The Internet of Things will see us having our homes fully connected to the internet, having the ability to turn the geyser off and the air conditioner on, from the office. Your fridge will tell you what food you need to buy, and the plumbing system will let you know if there is a leaky tap anywhere.
9. Global shopping
Although this is already a reality for us, globalisation will see it become even more prolific.
10. Distribution disruption
The postal service in South Africa is still a challenge, but in time we may see drones delivering our parcels.
12. Access to finance
Smartphones, blockchain, and social media are introducing new ways to make sending and receiving payment, and storing and investing money without physical cash easier, cheaper, and more transparent.
The expansion of technology has also allowed online education to progress the way it has, and UJ is staying at the forefront of developments by offering courses, fully online. Click here to have a look at the courses on offer at UJ and begin your online education journey.