May 24, 2021
COVID-19 made Movement to Work more important than ever
By: Olly Benzecry

As the economic fallout from COVID-19 threatens to send youth unemployment to the highest level in decades, businesses and leaders face an incredible responsibility to step up.

Movement to Work is a life-changing coalition of businesses, government and civil society. It aims to create lasting social change by providing youth from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds with high quality work experience placements, breaking the cycle of “no experience, no job” and “no job, no experience.”

Accenture co-founded the Movement in 2013 with several FTSE100 employers. More than 60 employers across the UK have participated in the programme, including M&S, Diageo, the NHS, BT, the Civil Service, BAe, Tesco, Marriott, Centrica, and many more. The Movement is backed by the government and key bodies such as the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

This year, it has achieved its founding ambition, having helped more than 100,000 young people – an incredibly proud moment for all involved. Overall, more than half of the young people who have completed a Movement to Work placement have gained employment or a route back into training and education.

However, we cannot afford to rest, now is the time to push on harder and raise our sights to helping the next 100,000 young people.

The UK unemployment rate has risen to its highest level for two years due to the impact of the pandemic with young people hardest hit. That’s where Movement to Work comes in.

The sectors that many young people traditionally find employment in, including retail and hospitality, have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The need for continued support from the UK business community is vital and my message is simple – we need to step up.

Youth unemployment in Britain was at a record low of 5.5% before the pandemic, but the Resolution Foundation think tank forecasts that could more than triple - to the highest level since the early 1980s, hitting 17% among economically active 18- to 29-year-old.

Safeguarding the workforce of the future is the key for the Movement, which is looking at ways to put youth unemployment at the heart of the post-COVID-19 recovery.

Accenture’s commitment to the Movement runs deep. Camilla Drejer, Accenture’s Director of Corporate Citizenship for UK and Ireland was the coalition’s first CEO and we have seconded some of our best people to the charity to help drive the agenda.

Each year Accenture commits to providing around 100 placements. These multi-week placements include vocational training, employability skills, mentoring and meaningful work experience to help to raise career aspirations and kick-start careers in the technology and digital sectors. And during the pandemic we have not rested, using innovation to pivot to virtual work placements during times of lock down and creating a tool kit for others to replicate. We have now been able to deliver over 1000 placements in all.

Accenture’s participants are encouraged to apply for our Technology Degree Apprenticeship. The programme has produced a living legacy as a significant number of young people join Accenture as apprentices, graduates or experience placements. We are committed to ensuring their ranks continue to grow.

Find out how Movement to Work opened the door to new opportunities for Accenture’s Michelle O’Neill and Rob O’Connor. And read more about how we are creating positive impact in the UK for our people, our communities and our planet.

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