July 15 is celebrated across the world as the Youth Skills Day and this year the UN theme is “skills for a resilient youth.” Having worked closely with vulnerable and disadvantaged youth around the globe, I have always found it most inspiring to see the resilience among the socially excluded. What they lack in terms of skills due to limited access, they make up with their efforts.
Existing social inequalities restrict access to trainings, jobs and opportunities for the youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. This, in turn, exacerbates the digital divide in society. And as a result, the benefits of the digital revolution often does not reach the farthest corners of the society, where it’s needed the most.
As the Digital Inclusion leader of Capgemini, it is my key focus to work towards reducing the digital divide and making the digital revolution an opportunity for everyone, especially those excluded due to social injustices. With this vision, we launched the Digital Academy program in 2018 to help disadvantaged groups and those away from the job market acquire skills for the future of work.
Since then, we have expanded our network of learning institutions, which is now present in Europe, North America, and India. Through this program, we have supported more than 1,500 individuals in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Morocco, North America, and India. This journey, which has only begun for us, has taught us a lot, and we are convinced that we need to continue on this path.
Digital transformation is more about talent than technology
One of our main target groups for the Digital Academy program is vulnerable and disadvantaged youth. The evolving nature of work has put them in a precarious position as most jobs these days require digital skills. The digital divide is pushing this population further away from the job market. It is also restricting the scope of diversity in the future workforce.
To facilitate the reintegration of the vulnerable population into the mainstream job market, public and private organizations need to join forces. Skilling up of the youth and people in the employable group is of prime importance if we want to make sure that the digital revolution benefits everyone.
A strong network of partnerships is key
Global collaborations and partnerships have been the corner stone of our Digital Academy program from the very beginning. All initiatives under the program are launched in collaboration with innovative local NGOs leading in the field of youth skills, such as Code Your Future in the UK, Year Up in North America, EduBridge in India, Simplon in France, among others. Besides local partners, we also have a global knowledge partner that brings a consistent global standards to the initiatives. We have also collaborated with clients such as Microsoft, JP Morgan and HSBC for the Digital Academy program to leverage the strength of our expertise and network.
Private organizations have a key role to play
According to a recent study by the Capgemini Research Institute on the global digital divide, private organizations have a key role to play in reducing the digital divide in society. The research recommends more recruitment of people from disadvantaged backgrounds to tackle the challenge. Initiatives such as the Digital Academy program facilitates this goal. By offering high-quality IT training courses at scale, we can effectively open jobs to disadvantaged groups and diversify our future workforce.
Of the over 1,500 people we supported under the Digital Academy program, more than one-third were integrated into Capgemini after successfully completing the course. The rest of the graduates were assisted in their search for job and internship opportunities.
New impetus in the new normal
As the COVID-19 crisis rages through the world, decimating economies, we need to do more to support the vulnerable youth. On July 1, we launched a new initiative under the Digital Academy program in Germany. Most classes of the ongoing courses have moved online to ensure continuity of the training and support to the students. We have already launched online classes in the United Kingdom, North America, and India, and we are in the process of moving the courses online in other locations. Moving the trainings online has also provided us with the opportunity to engage more volunteers from around the globe.
We are determined to reach our target for 2020 despite the extraordinary circumstances. Because, we recognize that it is now more important than ever to support vulnerable and disadvantaged population by facilitating access to skills, jobs, and opportunities.