Save the Children US President and CEO Janti Soeripto, far right, moderates a panel discussion during the Catalyzing Change event on September 21, 2023 at the Harvard Club in New York City.

Accenture’s Heidi Strawson and Lavazza Group’s Veronica Rossi discuss how to prepare young people to enter the workforce with Save the Children President and CEO Janti Soeripto during a side event panel coinciding with the 2023 U.N. General Assembly.  

Catalyzing change: Creating work opportunities for the next generation

by Heidi Strawson, Global Giving and Partnerships Lead, Accenture, and Veronica Rossi, Senior Sustainability Manager, Lavazza Group

Macroeconomic, social, geopolitical, climate, consumer and technological forces are affecting the way we all work. Leaders across industries are exploring new ways to help people build skills and gain advances in the future of work.

More than 90% of CEOs globally report one of their top five global challenges is talent scarcity and a lack of relevant skills for the future of work, according to research from Accenture.

It is a fact — today’s children are tomorrow’s workforce. Yet, sadly, young people around the world do not have equal access to education, skilling programs or other resources that might position them for success in the labor market. This inequality can cause many youths to struggle in the workforce as they transition into adulthood and can create a void in skilled workers for employers.

So how can we catalyze change that benefits the private sector, non-profits and the future generation of workers? Through the power of collaboration.

At Lavazza Group, it is an exhilarating time to contemplate the future of work. Over the past ten years, we have built out our environmental and social sustainability teams. Without doing this, we could never reach our goals. And in doing this, we have learned that young people are not just looking for a job — they are looking for a purpose. To appeal to this next generation of workers, we must provide that and create an environment where everyone can bring their personalities, passions and creativity to work every day.

Integrating social responsibility into Lavazza’s policies and procedures has been vital to creating jobs that provide a sense of purpose. Today, we continue to work together to educate and create behavior change at all stakeholder levels of our coffee bean suppliers in Vietnam, with the goal of preventing child labor in their supply chains.

At Accenture, we see the opportunities as businesses combine the power of technology with human ingenuity to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. Businesses need workers with skills requiring complex problem-solving, decision-making and creativity just as much as they need those with technical skills, such as IT and data.  Through our global skilling initiative, we collaborate with partners — like Save the Children — to prepare people for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, which helps nurture the next generation, prepare people for a job or business venture and build work experience.

We are proud to see the outcomes of the outstanding work that Save the Children is doing with their Skills to Succeed program to equip marginalized adolescents and youth with the soft skills, vocational skilling and job linkages they need to find jobs or build their own businesses. Since 2011 Save the Children has reached more than 281,000 young people across eight countries. Of those people, more than 100,000 found a job and 10,000 started businesses. Their program is inspiring youth to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and be lifelong learners.

Take Istia’s story: The 18-year-old from Bangladesh said, “After I completed 10th grade, I did not know what to do. Should I go to college or look for a job? Then I took this training. Save the Children’s training program gave me a chance to improve myself for me, for my mom, and a chance to support my family.”

Istia used her new skills to create a resume and apply for jobs. Today, Istia owns an online store that is growing in popularity and profitability. She is also designing an app that helps youth problem solve the realities of adulthood, like renting a house and finding a place to park a car.

Though Accenture and Lavazza represent two quite different sectors of business, we agree — doing good is good for business. Whether that is equipping youth with the skills needed to be successfully employed or creating jobs that fulfill young peoples’ sense of purpose, corporate social responsibility and leveraging the power of cross-sector collaboration, generates benefits all around.




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