PwC Commits $320 Million to Close Gaps in Tech, Financial Skills

PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) has announced the launch of a five-year, $320 million initiative aimed at closing opportunity, education, and skills gaps for students in underserved communities.

The initiative, Access Your Potential, will provide training and mentoring to more than ten million students in underserved communities across the country and equip a hundred thousand teachers and guidance counselors with the tools needed to prepare and guide students in making sound financial choices and understanding tech-based careers. As part of its commitment, the company will expand its Earn Your Future curriculum to include financial concepts and technologies; create a virtual mentoring platform that connects PwC professionals with young people; develop introductory courses in data analytics and other technology resources for use in underserved schools; invest in innovative startups in the areas of technology and financial skills, college readiness, and student debt; and support research. The commitment includes volunteer time from PwC employees, both virtually and in-person, and grants and investments in support of nonprofits through the PwC Charitable Foundation and the company's Student Loan Paydown program.

In conjunction with the announcement, PwC and the Business-Higher Education Forum released a study highlighting the wide gap between the expectations of educators and those of business executives with respect to preparing students for the job market. The report, Investing in America's Data Science and Analytics Talent (28 pages, PDF), found that 69 percent of U.S. executives said that by 2021 their preference will be job candidates with data science and analytics skills, yet only 23 percent of educators believe their graduates will possess those skills. Indeed, according to the company's annual CEO survey, 79 percent of  U.S. CEOs are concerned that the lack of critical skills among American workers could impair their companies' growth.

"The talent shortfall will not only involve data scientists, but it also will extend to existing job classifications, from the C-suite to [the] frontlines — all of which are increasingly enabled by analytics," the study notes.

"Too many young people are being left behind by our country's growing education gap," said Tim Ryan, U.S. chairman and senior partner of PwC. "At PwC, we believe that every student's potential should be realized, regardless of their circumstances. That is why we are investing in helping young people achieve their potential by improving their financial capability and opening their eyes to tech-enabled careers."