18 July 2006
Auditing and advisory firm KPMG has launched the South African chapter of the KPMG Network of Women (Know), an initiative aimed at increasing the number of skilled professional women in key business areas in the country.
Aligning itself closely with the government’s drive to improve the skills of South Africans, Know will seek to increase access to professional skills development for South African women.
According to KPMG, Know has spread to 31 states across the US and benefited over 8 500 female executives since its launch in 2002.
Speaking at the launch of the local branch in Johannesburg in June, KPMG executive director Tshidi Mokgabudi said KPMG would begin by employing 20 unemployed women graduates for 12 months in project management and information technology services “to ensure adequate exposure, knowledge, experience, exposure and skills development.”
Women make up 52% of South Africa’s adult population, yet comprise only 41% of the working population and a mere 4.7% of all executive managerial positions, according to the latest Businesswomen’s Association census.
Addressing guests at the launch, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said it was common knowledge that South Africa had a shortage of chartered accountants and project managers.
Mlambo-Ngcuka – who heads up the government’s Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgi-SA) – challenged the country’s accounting sector “to look at itself and how it has contributed to ensuring that the lives of young people become better in our country.”
Asgi-SA has identified SA’s shortage of skilled labour as one of the main constraints to its goal of boosting the country’s economic growth to 6%.
“I am on record as saying that the scarcity of skills is a global challenge,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said. “The financial sector is one of the affected sectors. South Africa has an army of youth who must be trained and absorbed into the mainstream economy.”