- Select a blog category
Language is the greatest barrier to employment for many refugees. That is why Natalie Lesbirel, an executive assistant at Deloitte in Manchester, recently volunteered to sit down and talk to refugee women as part of an English conversation clubs initiative - just one way in which Deloitte is helping to change lives as part of One Million Futures.
Talking can change lives. It seems such a simple thing. To spend an hour with someone, once a week. However, it can have a profound impact, as I discovered when I volunteered to talk to refugee women at the English Conversation Club.
Workers with strong transferable skills, combined with a confident, flexible mindset, are the most resilient according to Deloitte’s latest report in their ‘Power Up’ series. So how do you acquire these in-demand skills and use them to navigate the new and ever changing world of work? Deloitte Consultant Ale Rebon Portillo, who has enjoyed a varied and interesting career path, shares his insights.
A fashion adviser. A Catholic seminarian (trainee priest). An electronic engineer. And a software consultant.
You might think that all of these roles have little in common. However, they are all jobs I have done along my rather unconventional career path. While I admit that on the surface there seems to be a disconnect between this eclectic range of roles, look at the skills required for each job and you will discover they all share some of the most sought-after transferable skills – the ones we all need if we are to future-proof our career.
Adam Watts, Assistant Manager in Restructuring Services in Bristol, and a group of colleagues slept rough for the night to raise awareness of homelessness and raise funding for 1625 Independent People. The charity is just one of those helped by the firm’s social impact strategy, One Million Futures.
Have you ever walked past a homeless person huddled in a doorway or cocooned in a sleeping bag on a bench? How did that make you feel?
It is difficult to see people living on the streets, particularly at this time of year when it is bitterly cold. Believe me, it is nothing like camping. It is also hard when you see young people who are the same age as you, without anywhere to live.
That is why I - along with seven colleagues from Deloitte in Bristol - recently volunteered to experience homelessness. Our aim was to raise awareness, as well as vital funds, for the charity 1625 Independent People which helps young people in and around Bristol, typically aged from 16 to 25, who are currently homeless or at risk.
Committed to making an impact on the refugee crisis, Deloitte has launched an initiative to help uncover Syrian refugee economic potential in Europe. As part of this, senior consultant, Gaya Sarin, 28, volunteered to be one of the researchers conducting interviews with Syrian refugees – alongside a team from Deloitte UK, Austria, and the Netherlands. The data they collected into the skills and ambitions of these refugees – as well as the barriers they face in accessing employment - forms part of a report just published by Deloitte and the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. It is just one of the ways Deloitte is making a difference as part of its UK social impact strategy, One Million Futures.
The Syrian refugee sitting across the table was the same age as me. We had both left our homelands in search of opportunity – me as an economic migrant, he after fleeing from a terrible conflict that has claimed so many lives.
However, as we talked I discovered that our lives had little else in common.
Joanna Lumley, Ray Winstone, Larry Lamb, Hugh Bonneville and Nick Knowles are just some of the well-known faces encouraging employers to hire ex-service personnel. They all feature in Veterans Work: The Films, premiered by Deloitte UK with the Officers’ Association, and showcasing the value of hiring veterans into UK plc – something Liz Coombs, associate Director Global Business Tax says is a win/win.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “veteran”? Well some assume it is an American term and do not even associate it with our UK armed forces, while others think that veterans are old soldiers from WWII.
Yet, the reality is that a veteran could be a 26-year old woman with cyber skills.
Martin Hewitt, a mountaineer, former British disabled ski team racer, businessman and former Captain in the Parachute Regiment narrowly escaped death after being shot in Afghanistan. He went on to co-found the leadership and development business, Fieri Leadership. With support from Deloitte from the start, Martin and his team have led disabled people to new peaks - literally.
I am only alive today because of my team. Being shot in the foot and chest by a 7.62 calibre machine-gun should have killed me. However, the training and skills of my team, including the lance corporal and the medics who were helicoptered out from Camp Bastion, saved my life.
When you become a parent, it changes you.
I was always aware of child poverty as I am half Brazilian. When I visited family in Rio, I remember seeing that there were children my age growing up on the streets. It had a profound effect on me.
I spent much of my career as an accountant doing pro bono work and when that did not feel like enough, I moved to the charity sector working in international development, which took me all over the world to some amazing places and enabled me to learn about many global issues and solutions.
However, it was only when I became a parent that I had my idea to help change the lives of orphaned and abandoned children.
As a passionate supporter of Teach First, the charity set up to tackle inequality in education, Nick Owen, Chairman of Deloitte NWE, recently went back to school. He talked to pupils at Cantell School in Southampton as part of The Big Class Challenge, and is calling on others to follow in his footsteps, delivering special classroom activities that will encourage and inspire children from low-income communities to ‘dream big’.
Standing in front of a class of 14-year-olds, I did wonder if they would connect with me. After all, I am a 50 something white bloke who lives in London and here I was in a school where half the pupils’ first language is not English and more than one in five qualify for free school meals.
The ace up my sleeve to grab their attention was my local connection.
I don’t know where they expected the Chairman of Deloitte to have been educated. It probably wasn’t the sixth form college not that far away in Chichester. Yes, I left school at 16 to do my A levels at sixth form college. I doubt they were anticipating that.
A year ago, Deloitte embarked on an ambitious programme to change the futures of one million people. One year on and the impact of One Million Futures is truly impressive. However, for Fiona Walker, Responsible Business lead Partner, it is the individual stories that are truly inspirational.
The results are in. In the last year our professionals have volunteered 31,000 hours of their time and provided £700,000 of pro bono services to the 54 schools, charities and social enterprises we have partnered with through One Million Futures. Already more than 138,000 'futures' have been directly impacted and, now we are helping these amazing organisations to develop and grow, we are on target to reach one million.
While these figures are incredibly impressive (and if you are one of our volunteers, thank you), what really stands out as we look back at the first year of One Million Futures are the individual stories of lives transformed by education or training opportunities.
The start of the new academic year is an exciting time for pupils, and those that support them. As part of our education programme, Deloitte Access, volunteers are helping students from all backgrounds to prepare for success. Runa Khanom-Bakshi is a consultant in our Cardiff office, and her son, Yousuf, attends one of the schools benefiting from Access. After he achieved 13 A*s in his GCSEs, Runa shares her own experience of the difference that employers can make.