As if worrying about surviving your years as a trainee and passing your SAICA exams isn’t enough, there’s the added pressure of assessments along the way. But there’s no need for the various assessment programmes in place to become the stuff of nightmares – with adequate preparation and hard work, you can ace them.
Assessment, simply, is the measure of a trainee’s competence in performing pre-determined tasks, and acts as the yardstick against which SAICA measures progress through practical experience. Trainees are only able to enter the profession once they have proven they are capable in these skills; should they fail to do so, development areas are identified and trainees are counselled to help them reach competency.
There are currently three assessment processes that you will be measured against as a trainee: the Assessment Needs Analysis, the Professional Skills Review and the Technical Skills Review. The Professional Skills Review is based on the ability to demonstrate the required professional skills in terms of the SAICA training programme and needs to be completed and reviewed on an ongoing basis – with a minimum requirement that it is updated at least once every two months.
The Technical Skills Review determines the technical skills that trainees have been exposed to in a particular assignment, audit, time period or training course and needs to be completed at least once every two month period. The Professional and Technical Skills Reviews need to be completed and signed off by both trainee and reviewer, while the Assessment Needs Analysis (ANA) is completed by only the trainee’s evaluator to measure the current levels of competence in both professional and technical skills. It needs to be completed at the end of each successive six-month period.
Within each of these assessments, there is a rating of the level of competence, as well as level of complexity. Rating Level 1 is not capable; Rating Level 2 is capable with frequent supervision; Level 3 is capable with limited supervision; while Level 4 is capable without supervision. In terms of complexity, there is basic and advanced. The ANA serves to track the rating level of the trainee and determine whether development is necessary.
“It is commonly believed that a trainee automatically requires development if their demonstrated cumulative competence to date is not yet at Level 4,” explains SAICA. “This is not true.” Development is, in fact, only required under two circumstances – demonstrating a lower level of competence despite exposure to opportunities, and being unlikely to gain exposure to a task that would enable the trainee to demonstrate a Level 4 competency in the time left on their training contract.
Development is remedial, so where it is required, specific action will be identified for the trainee to take to meet the necessary level of competence. It is important to remember, if you need development, that the plan is worked out with your individual considerations in mind, and that if you follow the plan, you will more than likely achieve the required level of competence. It is possible to appeal the assessment if you feel you have been treated unfairly – but bear in mind that it is a long process with no guarantee of success.
Rather focus on putting the time and effort into gaining the necessary skills that will enable you to enter the profession you have been working so hard to break into, and remember that it is just a minor speedbump on your career path that you can overcome.
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