Softline Pastel has launched a recruitment division responsible for finding, training, and supplying Pastel skills for its own requirements as well as those of its business partners and customers.
“We’ve seen a marked increase in customers asking us either to recommend people with the right Pastel skills or put them in touch with a recruitment agency that has the expertise and knowledge to place superior Pastel skills,” says Tamsin Bradford, head of the new Pastel People division.
“We believe that the recent surge in demand for Pastel skills reflects a number of South African issues, including changes in legislation that affect bookkeeping and accounting and put additional regulatory pressure on SMEs.
“There has also been an acceleration in the number of start-up SMEs. One in six adult South Africans is now self-employed and upwards of 122 000 close corporations have been registered every year for the past six.
“At the same time, sales of Pastel software have been growing at more than 35% per annum, with 2000 accounting packages alone being sold every month. All of which means that demand is outstripping the availability of bookkeepers and accountants who know how to use the software to best advantage.
“We’ve never aligned ourselves with a recruitment agency, largely because recruitment agencies rarely have the in-house knowledge and experience to be able to test Pastel skills accurately. Also, we have intimate knowledge of what actually happens in the average finance department particularly during stressful times such as the financial year end period.
"This provides us with an enormous advantage when searching for skills. However, while the right skills are critical we also believe that culture fit is even more important than certificates. If you have someone with the right attitude, he or she will be able to learn the necessary software and accounting skills. If they have the qualifications you’re looking for but don’t fit into the organisation, they are of no use to you.
“In addition, as creators of the software, we’re in very close touch with our customers’ needs and understand SME business culture extremely well. We’re therefore better placed than most recruitment agencies to ensure that our customers get the right person for their bookkeeping or accounting job.
“For these reasons, and in the best interests of our customers, we’ve decided to undertake recruitment – and, where necessary, training – of suitable candidates for them.”
Pastel People has been registered as a recruitment agency but, according to Bradford, does not see itself as a competitor in the general recruitment industry.
“We’ll be focused very specifically on finding Pastel-related skills for ourselves, our customers, and our business partners – and will be applying our unique techniques and criteria to doing so. And, because we see this as only one of our support services to our customers, we will be charging less than the industry rate for placement of the relevant skills.