WASHINGTON, D.C. ; March 20, 2007 – Accenture (NYSE:ACN) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William D. Green today urged government and business to work together to make education more accessible, affordable and accountable with the goal of creating a stronger and more competitive U.S. workforce. Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, Green also called on senators to consider broadening tax incentives beyond deductions for tuition to cover expenses such as books, supplies and certain student fees which, he said, could be particularly important to students attending junior and community colleges.
A junior college graduate, Green credits Dean College, a two-year residential school outside of Boston, for helping give him the momentum to continue his education and become involved in business. "I am a shameless advocate for junior and community colleges because I am an example of what they can accomplish," said Green. "There is no doubt that my two years at Dean College not only prepared me for advancing my education and gearing up for a career, but also transformed me as a person. Our nation’s network of junior and community colleges can produce these results. I am living proof. "
Speaking as vice chair of the Business Roundtable’s Education and the Workforce Task Force, Green called on leaders of business and government to embrace three principles to advance the cause of education and competitiveness:
· Accessibility…providing more access to educational opportunities;
· Affordability…making education a reality by reducing financial barriers; and
· Accountability…teaching what is relevant and delivering good value for the money.
He also outlined five key strategies that the Task Force has mapped out to help the United States bridge what the Business Roundtable refers to as "the talent gap" between students’ schooling and future job opportunities:
· Strengthening math and science education programs in kindergarten through 12th grade;
· Recruiting and retaining outstanding math and science teachers;
· Expanding undergraduate and graduate science and engineering programs;
· Increasing funding for basic research in the physical sciences;
· Addressing visa and green card programs for highly educated, foreign-born professionals.
"This is not just about producing more scientists and engineers," Green said. "To build a truly competitive workforce, every company needs people who know how to learn; people with skills in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving and communications; and people who have ambition and self confidence. In essence, we need people who are great raw material."
He cited some of the programs Accenture has launched as examples of how the private sector might step in to support education. "Through employee contributions and the U.S. Accenture Foundation’s matching gift program, Accenture and its people donated more than $4.4 million last year to colleges and universities in the United States. These donations help to fund scholarship programs and various other educational and technology-based initiatives that focus on bringing knowledge and opportunity to America's youth."
Green noted that Accenture has created several scholarship programs, including the Accenture American Indian Scholarship Fund for Native American and Alaska Native students seeking higher education and requiring financial assistance; the Accenture Scholarship Program for Minorities, created to encourage minority students to pursue degrees in engineering, computer science and a variety of programs related to information systems and decision or management sciences; and the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to students attending historically black colleges and universities.
This year, Green said, Accenture launched the Accenture Junior & Community College Scholarship Fund, which will award scholarships to students who are starting their careers in technology and engineering at two-year institutions to continue their education at four-year institutions. It will provide 20 students with $5,000 each per year for two years.
"Learning is now the highest form of capital," Green said. "It needs to be focused and built around a clear understanding of special skills and competencies that our workforce needs. It is the answer to maintaining U.S. competitiveness in our ever-flattening world, and all of us – business, government and citizens across America – must work together to focus on education as the key enabler of competitiveness and success."
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 150,000 people in 49 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$16.65 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2006. Its home page is www.accenture.com .