Teaching kids how to exploit their talents with Accenture and JINC

It's not that often that you find two organizations whose goals align so well. Accenture's drive to invest in the next generation is perfectly reflected in JINC's core mission - it's why they've been partners for almost a decade, to make a real difference in the life of disadvantaged youngsters.

Do people with office jobs actually laugh at work?

Do people with office jobs actually laugh at work? It wasn’t until 16-year-old Ike from the relatively disadvantaged area of Amsterdam Nieuw-West took part in a program run by non-profit organization JINC that he found out that they do – often, in fact. The experience of being ‘boss’ for a day at Dutch multinational TomTom was an eye-opener for him. After his one-day stint as CEO, he went on to complete a three-month internship at the company and was then offered a temporary job, which led to his decision to study ICT. “I worked my ass off and succeeded,” says a proud Ike. “It is safe to say that JINC didn’t just help me gain valuable work experience; it also gave me the motivation I needed to finish high school. Their programs brought about major changes in my life, not only with regards to school and my career prospects, but at home too.”

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Ike is just one of the nearly 50,000 socioeconomically disadvantaged youngsters that JINC works with every year. “I find it so bizarre that the postal code of a person’s birthplace can predict how their life unfolds,” says Tjeerd van Raalte, director at JINC Amsterdam. “If you travel just a single kilometer from one neighborhood to another, you can find yourself in a completely different world – one where children lack the educational opportunities, skills and role models necessary to help them establish a successful career and enjoy a promising future.”

One goal in mind

Founded in 2003, JINC recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. In the years since its inception, the organization has helped thousands of youngsters between the ages of 8 and 16 by equipping them with the tools required to gain access to the labor market. Various training programs are available, and their intensity ranges from relatively ‘low impact’ – the once-off taaltrips (language journeys) are a good example here – to ‘high impact’ – think regular sessions between students and their own personal career coach. In addition, the non-profit also facilitates blikstemstages (short internships) and job interview skills training.

Last year, over 28,700 students completed a bliksemstage through JINC, while 11,500 youngsters received job interview skills training. Another 1,200 students benefited from regular meetings with a career coach, and over 5,100 taaltrips took place. Currently, JINC employs approximately 100 people and operates in nine different Dutch cities or regions. The organization always bases itself in the heart of socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods, and consistently works with one goal in mind: to give children skills, role models and a fair chance at a successful career.  

Helping those who can’t help themselves

“JINC’s mission aligns perfectly with Accenture’s values and goals,” explains Harald Beekman, Interactive Operations Lead at Accenture. “At Accenture, we firmly believe that by equipping children from disadvantaged backgrounds with the skills they need to succeed, we help to make the world a better place – not just for them, but for everyone. I personally feel very strongly about helping the next generation to move forward by offering them a stepping stone, and I’m especially eager to help children as they’re a vulnerable group who can’t help themselves.”

JINC and Accenture partnership - Harald Beekman - by Accenture

A peek behind the scenes

Over the past year, Harald has joined various taaltrips as, what JINC terms, a taalgids. The aforementioned taaltrips have a distinct objective: to familiarize children with words and themes specific to certain environments – especially environments they might work in one day, like local supermarkets, bakeries or Schiphol Airport. As Harald explains, “Youngsters visit places like supermarkets regularly, of course, but most have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. It is fantastic to see their faces when they realize that there is this whole other side to what they see – the operational side of a company. Not only do they learn new words and gain access to new meanings, but they essentially discover a whole new world. As we all know, it’s much easier to learn new things when they’re placed in context. Plus, alongside gaining new skills, the youngsters also experience a fun day out, which is definitely a big part of the story too.”

It’s truly remarkable how relatively small acts can have the biggest impact.

Introducing youngsters to a potential future employer is given a whole new meaning through JINC’s annual Meet Tomorrow’s Boss program. Every year, 200 vocational high school students get to ‘play’ CEO of a (big) company. While most ‘contracts’ end after one day, for Ike, the relationship continued. As Tjeerd comments: “It’s truly remarkable how relatively small acts can have the biggest impact. By teaching these children skills, giving them role models and, perhaps the most important thing of all, attention, we don’t just help them to acquire competencies and develop a new perspective; we help them build the confidence they need to move forward and chart their own course. For me, seeing the difference we can make is one of the key reasons I love my job as much as I do.”

A valued partnership with JINC

At present, JINC partners with 370 different companies across the Netherlands, ranging from small corner coffee shops to some of the biggest corporates in the country. The partnership with Accenture dates back to 2010, and over the years hundreds of Accenture employees have hosted a bliksemstage at one of the Accenture offices in Heerlen, Utrecht or Amsterdam, taken part in taaltrips, and many have facilitated job interview skills training or acted as career coaches for pupils. Even Accenture’s country director takes part in these training programs every year, together with one of the company's clients. And thanks to JINC, she can step back and take some time off once a year as one of the pupils takes over her role as CEO for a day.

JINC and Accenture partnership - by Accenture

Alongside having common goals, Accenture and JINC share other similarities. Both, for instance, place a lot of emphasis on technology and consider technology to be the key to the future. “As Accenture’s core business centers on technology and innovation, the company’s employees are well positioned to introduce children to this world and to show them how many doors open when you decide to study a subject like ICT,” Tjeerd says. “Moreover, what makes Accenture such a valuable partner is the fact that the organization genuinely wants to give back to society and make the world a better place. The company’s authentic, intrinsic drive to do good is one of the reasons we choose to work with them.”

The company’s authentic, intrinsic drive to do good is one of the reasons we choose to work with Accenture.

Not as far apart as you might think

“It’s easy to continue living a privileged life in your own little bubble. For me, it’s good to ‘escape’ from the Zuidas and see the work that JINC is doing in completely different settings,” Harald notes. “Connecting different worlds is exactly what JINC aims to do – there are growth opportunities for both sides. And although it might seem like these worlds are miles apart, in reality they’re much closer than you might think,” says Tjeerd, adding: “If we could do for all of the 50,000 kids we work with annually what we’ve done for Ike – help them to make a transition between these two worlds – I’d be over the moon.”

Author: Inge Abraham