Globally, economists believe this is the worst job market that the world has faced in ten years. So Accenture and Ashoka France are taking positive action to make a difference.Accenture and the Accenture Foundations have awarded Ashoka a three-year grant of US$962,000 to help more than 17,000 underprivileged people across Europe to become job ready and gain the entrepreneurial talent they need to enter the workforce. This programme is part of Accenture’s “Skills to Succeed” initiative, which is equipping 250,000 people worldwide by 2015 with the expertise to get a job or build a business. Arnaud Mourot, Director of Ashoka Europe, says, “Working with Accenture, we can provide the skills necessary for thousands of young people to find lasting employment or build their own businesses.”
Ashoka was founded to invest in social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions that are sustainable and replicable nationally, and globally. Ashoka does not accept funding from government bodies, making the organisation totally independent of politics. Established in 2005 in Europe, it has since established programs in over 70 countries and supports the work of nearly 3,000 social entrepreneurs. It now has a presence in almost all European countries.Adrian Lajtha, Chief Leadership Officer at Accenture, says, “Supporting Ashoka helps bring to life Accenture’s commitment to building skills. We share Ashoka’s commitment to making a significant, lasting impact on the long-term economic vitality and resilience of individuals, families and communities around the world.”
This new grant will allow Ashoka to identify four ‘Ashoka Social Entrepreneurs’ specialising in employment and employability in France, Spain, Poland and Belgium. They will receive financing and pro bono consulting support from Accenture to rapidly expand and make their businesses sustainable, which should hopefully create approximately 7,200 jobs. The grant and pro bono support will also help 10,000 young people in France improve their employability prospects through the Ashoka Youth Venture (YV) program and an interactive online learning platform.
The YV program builds awareness, understanding and motivation that support employment and business start-up prospects for young people. In the next year, YV will select, train and support more than 200 role models to provide young people with the opportunity to develop critical life skills by starting and leading their own community-minded club, organisation or business that creates a positive impact.
The best and perhaps the only way for Europe to recover from its financial problems is to get its economies growing rapidly again. It could ease some of the pain that has led to political and social unrest. The unemployment rates of many countries are very high. In Spain and Greece, the rates are comparable to what they were in the U.S. during the Great Depression. Young people in Europe face strong barriers to employment, and an initiative like this will help to break these down.
Photo Credit: HSE website
Sangeeta Haindl is a staff writer for Justmeans on Social Enterprise. When not writing for Justmeans, Sangeeta wears her other hat as a PR professional. Over the years, she has worked with high-profile organizations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from her industry. She now runs her own UK consultancy: Serendipity PR & Media.