May 05, 2017
Plugging the skills gap for the next generation
By: Payal Vasudeva

Organizations are facing an era of unprecedented change and disruption. The traditional ways their businesses operate will need to adapt in order to survive. Our clients need significant, radical solutions to address the challenges before them, and to do that, we need to be sure that we are fielding the best possible teams with the right skill sets for the business world of the future.

We are going to need new talent and innovative thinking, which won’t be found in the same places or with the same people that we have always employed or collaborated with. I believe in helping people get the skills they need to find work or start a business, and I am proud that our Skills to Succeed program has helped more than 1.7 million people globally from disadvantaged backgrounds build those skills.

It is essential that as businesses and as a society, we strive to engage people in the workforce who might previously have been excluded, overlooked or left on the sidelines. These include young people without the proper qualifications, people facing long-term unemployment, ex-military personnel and those with disabilities.

There’s no single answer to how you accomplish this goal. It’s essential to get organizations involved in programs that seek to provide real, effective support to get more people working.

Movement to Work is a great example of this. Accenture UK became a founding member of the program in 2013, pledging to offer at least 100 digital and technology-focused training and work experience placements to young, unemployed people aged 18-24 years old from disadvantaged backgrounds each year.

The initiative was established as a voluntary collaboration of UK employers tackling youth unemployment through the provision of high-quality vocational training and work experience. Movement to Work employers have now supported more than 50,000 unemployed young people, giving them the skills and confidence to find a job. Shajiha Hajida from East London started the Movement to Work program in July 2014. She is now pursuing a successful career as a Technology Apprentice with Accenture.

With just over 4.25 million young people currently out of work in Europe, programs like these are vital to reviving the career prospects of those individuals.

Work is important, but making sure people are able to fulfil their potential—as well as plugging significant skills gaps in our economy—is the golden ticket. Our Apprenticeship program in the UK does both, providing people with a three-year program that culminates with a foundation degree in IT, completed through a combination of academic study and workplace learning.

These are technology skills that we really need, and they position our graduating apprentices right at the heart of the new economy. The program combines work experience with a formal qualification, and it empowers a new generation of young people, many of whom might not even have considered a career in technology, or would have been unable to commit to the cost of university.

This is why Accenture UK is such a passionate endorser of See Potential, which is designed not only to promote the business benefits of inclusion, but also to help businesses fill skills gaps, diversify their workforce strengthen their recruitment practices.

It’s not just that we need these people inside our organization—although we do. We don’t just need to diversify the people who work for us—although we do. We also need to diversify consumers, voters, teachers, politicians. We need to create a culture in which your starting point doesn’t limit your ambition.

Part of that will come from creating opportunities to retrain or upskill, from creating access to that all-important first work experience. But part of it is also about supporting people once they actually get into work—with flexible working arrangements, training, support networks and mentors. It’s about offering benefits such as shared parental leave and access to mental health support teams and networks that encourage people to be open and honest about their sexuality or faith.

It’s not about fair. It’s not about justice. It’s a pragmatic decision to make sure that we are fielding our best. We cannot afford any waste of talent as we face whatever the next decade brings.

To find out more about Accenture’s efforts to diversify and offer greater opportunity in the workplace, download our latest Corporate Citizenship report.

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        Rohit Kumar • May 7, 2017

        A must read

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