Accenture grants $1.3 million to Save the Children for youth entrepreneurship and social innovation

JOHANNESBURG: 13 September 2023 – Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has granted $1.3 million (just over R24 million) to NGO Save the Children in South Africa for youth entrepreneurship and social innovation projects over a three-year period. Save the Children has been adopted as part of the Accenture Skills 2 Succeed (S2S) programme. Accenture has been working with Save the Children in other countries, but this is the first time they have engaged the South Africa cohort.

“The programme aims to equip young men and women who experience the most inequality in South Africa with the skills needed to pursue decent work and economic growth successfully. The programme also equips youth with the attitudes, knowledge and values to develop a sustainable and resource-efficient society,” states Khethiwe Nkuna, Responsible Business Executive for Accenture in Africa. “The project will reach youth ages 15-24 in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng Provinces who experience the most inequality and discrimination, including women, migrants, refugees and unaccompanied youth,” she adds.

Nkuna further explains that Accenture plans to engage 30,000 youth (50% women) through awareness-raising interventions on skills development, employment readiness, gender equality and inclusion, green job opportunities and climate change. “We also aim to improve the knowledge and skills of 20,000 youth (50% women), including 100 migrant, refugee and unaccompanied youth, through training in employability skills, and growth and green mindset,” she says.

Accenture emphasises that this entrepreneurship-focused program will support 12,000 youth (50% women) in improving career readiness and resiliency, finding decent jobs, building their businesses or continuing to higher education, as well as reach 860 adults, including educators, CSO staff, parents, caregivers community leaders and employees to create an enabling environment for youth’s career readiness and resiliency.

Why focus on South Africa now?

South Africa is classified as a middle-income country with a high human development index rating. However, it is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Poverty, unemployment and environmental degradation exist alongside wealth, modern cities and developed infrastructure. Despite high standards for some children regarding living conditions, access to education and employment prospects, many of South Africa’s children and youth face a future of unemployment, underemployment and hazardous work. Consequently, poverty and protection issues abound.

To help address the complexity and interrelated nature of the issues vulnerable young people face in South Africa, Nkuna lists the scope of this project that will focus on the following matters:

  • Developing the career readiness and resilience required of youth to enter emerging job markets: Vulnerable youth will be equipped with the necessary skills in the job market. Accenture will support young people with growth in employability skills and green mindset training to improve their chances of obtaining formal, green, decent jobs.

“To account for the fact that undocumented migrants may not be able to enter the formal sector, we will conduct a pilot to provide undocumented migrant youth with training on entrepreneurship skills, materials and in-kind support for viable business ideas. This is especially important for migrant girls to avoid falling into situations of exploitation,” states Nkuna.

  • Job linkages, focusing on green jobs: The project will promote in-school and out-of-school youth connections with employers. The project will conduct job fairs, informational talks, career counselling and awareness-raising campaigns to create an enabling environment where young people understand what work is available, how to access it, and where they can be supported. These activities will benefit employers’ understanding of young people’s skills, where to find them, and what development they might need.
  • Closing the digital skills gap: The project will address the divide regarding young people’s lack of access to technology, connectivity, and basic digital skills. The project will work with partners to provide youth with essential digital skills training and internet connectivity through local Community Service Organisations (CSOs).

“This will help young people access the job market using technology and increase their skillsets and employability – a big focus for Accenture,” shares Nkuna.

  • Addressing the specific needs of migrant boys and girls: The project will address young migrants and asylum seekers’ unique needs. The project will build their capacity to successfully transition to decent employment by strengthening their transferrable life skills, business skills, financial literacy, and vocational training skills.
  • Unleashing the power of young people as advocates and leaders for social and climate action: The programme will form a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) with programme participants. YAC members will receive additional training in leadership, communication and advocacy. The YAC will advise the programme and elevate the voices of young people in programme implementation. The YAC will also be the leading force for youth-led advocacy.
  • Understanding and improving gender equality in the labour market: The Labour Market Assessment undertaken at the beginning of this project will collect data to understand barriers young women face in obtaining and retaining decent employment and employers’ needs and challenges when employing women.

“Participants for the project will be selected from public schools, afterschool programs, TVET colleges, CSO and community youth programs, youth-centric Community Service Organisations (CSOs), and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in local township communities and existing Save the Children programmes,” says Marumo Sidwell Sekgobela, Acting Programmes Director at Save the Children South Africa. “Employee engagement initiatives with Accenture will also support us with implementation of programme.”

“Accenture’s investment will enable Save the Children to build upon strong S2S programming by extending the programme and adding new countries. It will also add innovative elements to address inequality, empower youth to be voices of change and give them the skills they need to succeed in the green economy. Together, we will equip youth to pursue new economic opportunities and contribute to developing a just, sustainable, and resource-efficient society,” Nkuna concludes.

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