Accenture has made a cash and in-kind services grant of more than C$1.1 million to ACCES Employment, a Canadian non-profit that helps connect employers with thousands of qualified workers from diverse backgrounds each year.
ACCES will use the grant to develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bot to improve services for job seekers, many of whom are newcomers to Canada. The digital solution will help skilled newcomers secure jobs that align with their training and experience. Although nearly 300,000 people immigrate to Canada every year, only about 24% of foreign-educated immigrants find work in their professions, according to Statistics Canada.
Using conversational AI, automation and machine learning, the bot will act as a virtual attendant, helping job seekers find the online resources they need, including articles, videos, skills assessments and e-learning modules. With approximately 75% of ACCES clients using self-serve and light-touch services, the bot will also free up time for ACCES employees to deliver other more customized services to job seekers online and in person.
"At Accenture, we believe in the power of emerging technologies to create solutions that have a positive, lasting impact on people and communities," said Janet Krstevski, a managing director who leads Accenture's Talent & Organization practice in Canada. "We are excited about the impact this project will have and are committed to supporting ACCES Employment in its goal to help newcomers build successful careers in Canada."
This announcement follows a C$1.4 million grant from Accenture in 2016 that ACCES used to develop an online platform to deliver services and resources, enabling the organization to double the number of job seekers it serves to more than 35,000 in 2019. ACCES expects the new bot to enable it to help 15% more people during the first year it's in operation.
"Through this solution, we'll be able to help more people find meaningful and valuable work," said Allison Pond, president and CEO of ACCES Employment. "We are proud of partners like Accenture, who share our goals and passion to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Together, we are on a mission to help people succeed and achieve their goals and aspirations for their careers and lives in Canada."
ACCES's programs helped Kelechi Uzoma, originally from Nigeria, find a job in Canada that draws from his previous management experience. He credits his success to the unique combination of support he received at ACCES, starting online before he moved to Canada, then in person, and eventually through employer networking events as an alumnus.
"The pressure that comes with migration can erode an individual's self-confidence," said Uzoma, who arrived in Canada in October 2017. "ACCES Employment was my North Star, giving me hope and confidence while equipping me with the resources to navigate the Canadian job market."
Jeffrey Russell, president of Accenture in Canada, said, "Businesses have an opportunity and a responsibility to be a force for good in the world. At Accenture, we're driving innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Our latest initiative with ACCES Employment will help more people get the support they need to find meaningful employment."
Accenture's grant is aligned with its corporate citizenship initiative, Skills to Succeed, and is underpinned by innovation and advanced technologies to help solve critical challenges facing business and society. As part of the grant, Accenture has committed C$200,000 in pro bono work to help bring the project to life. The project will further serve as a testing ground for Accenture to use emerging technology at scale and for good, with design expertise pulled from across the company.