Accenture’s vision is to improve the way the world works and lives. Through Corporate Citizenship, our programme focuses on environmental and social sustainability by bringing positive change to the communities in which we live and work. Through our flagship community investment programme, Skills to Succeed, our objective is to provide 3 million people globally, by 2020, with the right skills to help them adapt and thrive in the digital economy. It aims to support vulnerable & marginalised populations to secure meaningful and lasting employment, or to set up their own business. To achieve this goal, Accenture works with several strategic community partners to achieve impact at scale, including Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI).
JAI is a leading non-profit which focuses on entrepreneurship education in both primary and second level, and is part of a worldwide organisation working with over 10 million young people each year. JAI was established in Ireland in 1996, and the JAI-Accenture relationship spans over 20 years, where we have worked together to equip young people with the skills they need to succeed in a changing world. Last year, JAI and the Accenture Ireland Corporate Citizenship team collaborated closely to co-design and scale a new Transition Year educational programme, Career Success. Developed to meet the needs of second-level students facing an increasingly dynamic and ever-changing landscape in the world of work, the Career Success programme equips participants with the tools, skills and confidence needed to thrive in the future workforce.
The Career Success programme is composed of five in-class workshops, delivered by a Business volunteer, which promote the practice of blending learning and self-directed learning, both of which JAI and Accenture recognise as critical skills. As part of the programme, students also gain access to the Accenture-developed Skills to Succeed Academy, an interactive, online employability training portal, which is designed specifically for young people entering the world of work, helping them to prepare for, and overcome the common challenges faced when seeking employment.
The programme focuses on developing students’ understanding and competency in areas such as effective communication, teamwork, developing one’s ‘personal brand’, and preparing for interview situations, including practicing with Business professionals through mock interviews. The curriculum is designed with the Business volunteer in mind, and includes plenty of opportunity for group discussion and interactive activities to engage students, and bring them through the necessary mind-set shift which takes place between a school and workplace environment. At every step of the way, Business volunteers are encouraged to personalise the learnings, and demonstrate their real-world relevance.
In its first year, the pilot programme reached 1,900 students in over 50 schools around Ireland, and has received fantastic feedback from students, teachers and volunteers alike. For Business volunteers, this programme provided an opportunity to engage with, and inspire the next generation. Teachers responded well to the learning-by-doing, volunteer-led method which ensured that the content was accessible, catering very well for mixed ability groups. According to one teacher in Tallaght Community School: “The students really enjoyed the interaction with their volunteer. They found it very interesting and were fully engaged at all times. The materials used were excellent and greatly aided the learning experience. They also really enjoyed their interviews.” Perhaps most importantly, feedback from students has also been resoundingly positive, who reported that the programme provided a relevant, practical and engaging introduction to the world of work. According to one student: “I enjoyed taking part in the mock interview. I now feel more comfortable for future interviews that I may have. It helped me learn more about the working world and jobs I could possibly have.”
Accenture employees fund raised €71,969 and volunteered 10,618 hours to local groups and projects during 2019.