A wicked social problem being wrestled with globally is youth unemployment. Youth unemployment has broad impacts which go beyond economics – unemployment for an extended period for people of any age can lead to social exclusion, where individuals are prevented from fully participating in society. Youth are particularly vulnerable. Accenture’s Skills to Succeed (S2S) Academy has been designed to assist young people to gain employability skills through an interactive online program – a small contribution to a big issue.
The S2S Academy, which launched in the UK in 2013, is now operating in 6 countries (UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, US and the Philippines) and has helped over 60,000 youth to date. Recently we have started to explore ways in which we might be able to leverage our S2S Academy in Australia, with a particular focus on how it could be used to help young people with disabilities to prepare for the job market. In Australia, people aged between 15 and 64 years with a disability have both lower participation (53%) and higher unemployment rates (9.4%) than people without disability (83% and 4.9% respectively).
A survey conducted in the UK in 2017 by Accenture with work coaches and disability employment advisors, showed an overwhelming level of agreement that S2S Academy could be used to support young people with a disability. It was noted that young people face a wide range of barriers to employment and S2S Academy would not be able to address all of them but used in conjunction with other tools and the expertise of staff it could have a real impact. The Academy offers a number of advantages to those who are not easily able to leave their homes, giving them the flexibility to complete S2S Academy at their own pace, in an interactive and structured environment. Users are also able to choose content relevant to them.
The key takeaway was that the S2S Academy could help address two of the most common barriers to employment faced by young people including those with a disability – lack of confidence and lack of transferrable skills and experiences – by utilising modules that can help identify skills, creating and tailoring a CV and building an online professional presence.
A UK charity that offers support, information and advice to more than a quarter of a million people with a disability and their families every year has started using S2S Academy as part of one of their initiatives, which provides highly personalised support for people with a disability in London to find, apply for and keep a job. While it is still too early to gauge how many people with a disability the S2S Academy has helped, it is positive that it is being used in this context.
As the government seeks new ways to engage young people looking to enter the labour market, as well as the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Australia, there is an opportunity and a need for new solutions helping young people including those with a disability to transition into employment. Accenture, through the Skills to Succeed Academy and other innovative solutions, can contribute to decreasing the number of young, unemployed Australians.
At the beginning of this blog, I mentioned how unemployment often leads to social exclusion. On the contrary, social inclusion ensures that those at risk gain the opportunities and resources required to participate in economic, social and cultural life. These are all essential factors in defining an individual’s identity in society and therefore are worth focusing on.