PwC has pledged $320m (£256m) to help close the education and skills gap for more than 10 million economically deprived students in the US. The money, to be spent over five years, will be used to provide tools, training and mentoring to students, educators and guidance counsellors.
The launch of the Access Your Potential programme coincides with a study the professional services network conducted with the Business-Higher Education Forum that identified a gap between the expectations of educators and those of business executives when it comes to getting students ready for the job market.
More than two-thirds of US executives (69%) say they’ll prefer job candidates with science and analytical skills by 2021, yet only 23% of educators believe their graduates will possess those skills, according to the study.
According to PwC’s annual CEO survey 79% of US CEOs are concerned that a shortage of key skills could impair their company’s growth. PwC says the gap could have damaging effects on the US economy.
PwC’s commitment aims to help more than 10 million students in lower-economic communities gain access to financial capability and technology skills, as well as equip 10,000 teachers and guidance counselors with tools to prepare and guide students in making sound financial choices. PwC has also committed to utilise the skillsets of its 46,000 partners and staff to teach financial concepts and technology skills by expanding its Earn Your Future curriculum. It will create a virtual platform that connects PwC professionals with young people to share advice and leverage skills.
The company has committed to develop introductory technology courses for technology skills, including data analytics, and to invest in startups that are disrupting the marketplace around technology skills, college readiness and student debt. PwC said it would continue its programme to reduce student debt among its own staff by paying its associates and senior associates $1,200 a year to help reduce their debt burden.
Shannon Schuyler, corporate responsibility leader at PwC, said: “For us, helping young people learn these essential life skills is a responsibility, a privilege, and a passion. Creating an equitable society must be a priority and Access Your Potential is one of the ways that we can begin to address this formidable challenge.”
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