October 26, 2018
So what actually happens at the B20?
By: Armen Ovanessoff

It’s easy to criticize events like the B20 as “talking shop.” But let’s not point fingers. It’s up to us participants to make sure we make the most out of it. Consensus is difficult to attain across such a large number and variety of economies, let alone within each of the eight B20 Taskforces, each of which involves roughly a hundred businesses from around the world. Yet, for my part, I can say that after a year of hard work, we appear to have reached a point of consensus on the highest-priority agenda item: Employment and Education. We all agree that a revolution is desperately required across education and training systems.* Consensus is great. But it’s not enough.


To me, the greatest value of such initiatives is when they can lead to tangible action and change on the ground. The Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) is probably the best example of this. An outcome of the G20 process, the GAN has spent the past 5 years encouraging and linking business initiatives on skills and employment opportunities for youth, especially through work-based learning.

Accenture has a close relationship with the GAN, including Pierre Nanterme’s position on the board and a strong partnership with Accenture Switzerland, a world leader in apprenticeships. I was honored to host and moderate the GAN’s event at this year’s B20 summit. Accenture research on the future workforce and skills development helped frame the panels and activities that included the Chair of the B20, the President of the International Organization of Employers, and companies like Nestlé, Quicksilver and JP Morgan.

But the star of the show was Noemi Elizabeth Rosales, a 20-year old apprentice at Shell. Noemi is from a disadvantaged background in a deprived neighborhood in one of Argentina’s poorest provinces. During our panel session, she explained what an unimaginable opportunity this apprenticeship represents for her and her community. For the first time, she receives guidance, support and confidence to make mistakes, recover and learn from them. Her future is transformed.

Armen speaking at the B20 Argentina 2018 with Noemi seated to his right.

But this isn’t enough for Noemi. She has been inspired to help spread these opportunities to the millions of others that remain excluded from formal, productive and enriching work opportunities. She told us, “We are capable. We are responsible. We are willing.” The opportunity and onus is on businesses to seek out this latent pool of valuable and eager talent.

Accenture has put a lot of effort and research to successfully prove the case for experience-based learning techniques, like apprenticeships. Noemi’s passionate words sealed the deal within minutes.

*View the policy paper from the B20 Employment and Education task force

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