Environmental issues, corruption, and security are not the only issues that affect the world’s long term economic prospects. As technology displaces workers of all skill levels and more nations deal with rising unemployment, a jobless workforce is a threat to the world’s economic recovery as well. The International Monetary Fund, for example, has warned that the growing number of unemployed youth could cause instability in some countries—and affect prosperity and peace within others. The IMF’s Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, recently implored the world’s leaders to spend more time and resources on retraining their citizens and prepare them for an evolving workforce—a tall order because as many as 210 million people around the world are jobless.
One organization that will offer help in tackling this issue is Accenture, the management consulting firm that employs 190,000 professionals around the globe. Some of those employees, backed by the firm’s US$100 million commitment over the next three years, will work with non-profit organizations around the world and help them achieve the skills necessary in order to find a job in high-growth markets.
The “Skills to Succeed” initiative has set a goal to train and retrain 250,000 people by 2015. Current partners in the non-profit sector include Oxfam, Enablis, and Youth Business International. Most of the programs focus on developing information technology skills; others offer workshops that will groom budding entrepreneurs.
One NGO that benefits from Accenture’s programs is Conexão, based in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. In addition to working with at risk youth ages 15 to 17, Conexão offers technical classes to teenagers and young adults, boosting their chances at finding employment in a country that is enjoys enviable economic growth—but has become harshly competitive for many of Brazil’s citizens as well. With its offering of daily classes, Conexão’s staff does what it can to reconcile the interests and capabilities of its students, while matching their skills to the needs and demands of the local job market.
Accenture’s partnership in Brazil is one of 80 worldwide, including western nations, Southeast Asia, and Africa. The programs are a match for a professional services firm like Accenture, which has access to a deep labor pool, and can pull employees for projects at a moment’s notice. Skills to Succeed is a nimble long-term strategy as well—some of the youngsters in training now may very well be a featured employee a decade from now.