Recently, Accenture introduced the decentralised internship programme in collaboration with the Central University of Technology (CUT) in Bloemfontein and Sol Plaatje University (SPU) in Kimberley. The programme aims to discover new talent, empower learners in areas where job opportunities are limited as well as develop a skills base outside of South Africa’s urban hubs.
“Accenture’s established internship programme, based at their Centurion Advanced Technology Centre, accommodates over to 100 interns each year, 70 percent of whom secure employment opportunities with Accenture,” explains Setjhaba Molloyi, a former internship graduate who now holds the position of managing director at Accenture’s Advanced Technology Centre.
However, there is a significant shortage of employment opportunities outside of the country’s major cities, he adds. “To improve job opportunities for graduates in these areas, assist in addressing youth unemployment, economic emancipation and social empowerment objectives, we looked for ways to extend the reach and impact of our internship programme.”
With today’s modern technology bridging the distance gap, Accenture chose to decentralise its internship programme to include locations across the country. However, without an existing established Remote Capability Centre, Accenture looked to partner with institutions that had the required infrastructure in place to support interns.
“We engaged with a number of universities in different provinces but found that CUT and SPU shared our passion and enthusiasm for the initiative,” continues Molloyi.
CUT and SPU are making available the infrastructure from the institution’s Faculty of Engineering and IT department and offers access to a pool of students with related qualifications from which to select candidates. Accenture has recruited a total of 40 students for the inaugural programme.
Over the 12-month period, Accenture will provide interns with an advanced skills development programme, market related stipend and laptops, enabling a new workforce for South Africa with future ready skills from the Free State and Northern Cape. The focus of the syllabus will encompass data security, information processing, industry 4.0 technologies, modern web development, mobile application development as well as automation. “These are important skills that will be in high demand in the digital era,” continues Molloyi. “Our hope is that we create a highly skilled remote workforce that is able to secure employment opportunities at Accenture, or at other technology-centric organisations, yet remain based in their hometowns.”
This will help to build a skills base in these areas, effectively creating hubs of competency that can drive economic growth in the region. “Improving employment opportunities in these towns will also have positive knock-on effects within the local communities, and boost the career prospects of the youth in the area,” adds Molloyi.
An additional benefit to establishing a remote workforce cited by Molloyi, is a lower cost of living for employees. “It is generally cheaper to live outside of major urban areas such as Johannesburg, Pretoria or Cape Town. If interns are able to earn market-related corporate salaries while benefiting from reduced living expenses, we can help to accelerate meaningful wealth creation.”
Additional costs efficiencies can also be realised through a decentralised model. For example, clients can harness world-class consulting skills and capabilities at a better price as compared to the contracted rates charged in major business centres, where demand is higher.
Accenture will use the inaugural remote capability centre internship programme to fine-tune the model, as we expand into other provinces. “Our medium-term objective is to scale the decentralised model starting in South Africa, to eventually create a skills development hub that can serve Accenture Technology’s business needs for the rest of Africa” elaborates Molloyi.
“Technically speaking, there are no limitations on how big this programme can grow. Our next ambition will be to establish an advanced technology centre in Bloemfontein, Kimberley and other provinces, where we can accommodate more interns and permanent employees to serve into the Accenture business, without the need to relocate them.”
Molloyi adds that Accenture would also actively participate in developing the IT curriculum taught at the universities with which they partner. “We want to contribute to the curriculum and offer insights into where our technology-driven world is headed. This ensure learners leave with a qualification that is applicable and relevant in the modern digital era,” he concludes.