The following is excerpted from the most recent issue of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how you can deliver maximum business and social value through strategic partnerships, consider joining us for our Effective Corporate Citizenship Partnership Management course.
For some companies, the best way to achieve significant progress on an issue is to develop an effective program and then bring it to scale in a way that stays true to its foundational purpose while remaining adaptable enough to account for local needs. Accenture—a leading global professional services company—has done just that. By taking a focused and customizable approach to establishing powerful partnerships, their Skills to Succeed initiative, which launched in 2009, has helped equip more than 1.2 million people to date with the workplace and entrepreneurial skills needed to compete in the global economy.
Accenture understands that collaboration, by joining or creating cross-sector partnerships, is vital to closing employment gaps. Around the world, Accenture partners with nonprofits—both global and local in scale. While each partnership targets different areas of skill development and involves different community partners, the goal of the initiative remains clear throughout all levels of collaboration: decreasing global unemployment in a manner that is both sustainable and that meets the needs of both local communities and the larger global labor market.
According to Accenture’s Chairman and CEO, Pierre Nanterme, as quoted in the company’s 2015 Corporate Citizenship Report published earlier this year:
“Our approximately 373,000* people, who serve clients in 120 countries, strive to improve the environment and society through their leadership, knowledge, and skills. But we cannot do it alone. With our core values—particularly Stewardship—at the heart of our efforts, we collaborate with a range of partners to deliver long-lasting, measurable solutions.”
The impact and scope of Skills to Succeed can be seen in the initiative’s impressive results to date and ambitious goals looking forward to 2020. The International Labor Organization estimates that roughly 200 million people worldwide are currently unemployed, and 280 million jobs must be created in the next five years in order to keep this number from rising. Through Skills to Succeed, Accenture will equip 3 million people with the skills to get a job or build a business by 2020—and is focused on helping people transition from skills training into sustainable employment.
“We know that our program has a solid foundation and has changed many lives over the past seven years, but Skills to Succeed will only be effective in the long run if its beneficiaries are able to secure lasting jobs, maintain successful businesses, and experience enhanced economic opportunity,” said Jill Huntley, global managing director for corporate citizenship at Accenture. “For that reason, we are increasing our focus on helping people make a successful transition from skill-building programs to sustainable jobs and businesses and improving our collective ability to measure and report on outcomes.”
Integral to the program’s success is Accenture’s selection of established community and nonprofit partners that—each in their own way—are working toward the shared goal of skill building and increasing employment. For example, one Skills to Succeed partnership in the United States works with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families to both train veterans for a transition into the workforce and also provide pro bono consulting support that is enabling the organization to build its capabilities and offer holistic services including employment training, housing, healthcare, and career services.
Another, with Leonard Cheshire Disability, is increasing economic participation of persons with disabilities globally. To date, the program has helped more than 8,000 people with disabilities across Asia gain employment in several sectors, including IT and business process outsourcing (BPO). By 2018, the program will bring skills training to an additional 13,000 people in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, and Sri Lanka.
In the United Kingdom, as a founding partner of Movement to Work, Accenture is collaborating with clients, suppliers, and fellow employers to offer young people access to high-quality digital training, work experience, and a path to entry-level jobs. To date, Accenture has offered more than 160 in-house apprenticeships, and more than 80 of its trainees have gone on to find fulltime employment, 30 of them at Accenture. In addition, the company has engaged its U.K.-based suppliers in pledging approximately 1,000 apprenticeships of their own. More than 30,000 young people have been placed in apprenticeships with participating employers through Movement to Work, and more than 50 percent of those youths have gone on to find permanent employment.
Recipients of Skills to Succeed support shed further light on the powerful impacts the initiative has had:
“I started off with very few resources. I had almost no capabilities, but I had a goal. My dream to own a business has come true,” said Rosa Angélica, who received training through Accenture’s Skills to Succeed partnership with Juntos por el Empleo de los más Vulnerables and who now owns a small business in Madrid. “Thanks to the training, I know how to reach people and handle situations,” she said.
For Alexandru, training received via a partnership with Upwardly Global allowed him to develop the expertise needed to work in his desired field of software engineering after emigrating to the United States from Moldova. Now, he works as a software engineer at Accenture. “The training helped bring my knowledge and interview skills to a new level,” he said. “It gave me the opportunity to continue my career path in information technology and apply my skills. Now I’m earning three times more compared to what I earned as a mover.”
While these stories point to the impressive results partnerships can achieve, the effects of Skills to Succeed go beyond individual impacts. Accenture is also committed to defining market-relevant strategies for combating unemployment across the globe. The company leverages its extensive network of employers across sectors in order to best understand local market needs and develop appropriately targeted initiatives.
For example, in India, the economy will need to add 119 million skilled workers in 24 key sectors by 2022. Together, Accenture and its Skills to Succeed partners have identified five sectors with the maximum potential for employment, including business process outsourcing, hospitality, retail, construction, and microenterprise, and are focusing local Skills to Succeed efforts on those areas.
In the United Kingdom, the local workforce is experiencing a digital skills gap: More than 900,000 young people—brought up in the age of digital technology— are not employed or engaged in education or training, while 30 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses and charities lack basic digital skills. Accenture is collaborating across sectors to create sustainable employment opportunities, including technology apprenticeships as software engineers and digital marketing professionals, to help close the digital skills gap.
With more than $300 million invested in corporate citizenship since 2011, Accenture is demonstrating the power of strategic partnerships to address global needs at local levels—while at the same time helping to support the systemic change necessary for future growth.
* As of February 29, 2016
To learn more about how you can deliver maximum business and social value through strategic partnerships, consider joining us for our Effective Corporate Citizenship Partnership Management course.
If you're interested in connecting with peers and learning best practices, join us March 26-28th in Boston for the 2017 International Corporate Citizenship Conference.