Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, an international accounting and consulting firm, has taken the lead among high-profile businesses devoted to bringing underprivileged workers a more competitive edge. The company’s initiative, Deloitte21, provides international outreach to provide the vocational skills necessary to compete for positions in today’s job market.
Deloitte defines the underserved as “those who are facing barriers to achievement and opportunity limiting their ability to compete and thrive in the 21st-century economy.” Deloitte21 is modeled off of a similar 2001 U.K. initiative headed by Deloitte Managing Director of Brand and Communications Heather Hancock. Her project helped teens from ages 16 to 18 improve their skill set and employability, with a total of 16,000 having currently completed the program.
“You need to look at underserved in a local context in terms of achievement,” Nick van Dam, chief learning officer of global talent at DTTL, explained. “In the U.K., as an example, a lot of people in universities and colleges [are] not necessarily employable — they needed specific skills. Other geographies, again, there are different challenges. A challenge can be that kids don’t complete high school, as an example. It’s different country by country. We really look at the local context to see what we can do and how we can help.”
Education investment firm America’s Edge estimates that a mere 20 percent of the U.S. population possesses the skills required for 60 percent of new jobs created. With countries such as India and Russia seeing similar numbers, Deloitte aims to use its business power to provide the skills that only a small few receive.