Since we launched Founders4Schools in 2011, we have made incredible progress building a service that improves student employability. The aim has always been simple – give teachers access to a network of successful, local business owners.
These are a singularly inspirational group. We know that exposure to just four business leaders decreases by five-fold the propensity of a young person to ever become NEET, and we know from our own experience that 54% of the students who meet F4S role models end up choosing a STEM subject. That is three times the national average.
The challenge that we still face may appear overwhelming. Student employability is more important than ever. There are 1.2 million job openings at the moment and nearly one million young people without a job and yet 70% of employers report that school leavers are not work-ready. And the longer a young person is not in training, education or employment, the less likely they are to return to work: this skills gap hurts more than just young people, costing the UK economy more £90 million each week in support costs and lost productivity.
That is about to change, radically. The partnership that we are announcing today with CEC means that, within 18 months, the Founders4Schools platform will be taken to over 3,000 schools in England and will see our inspirational volunteer founders able to inspire an additional 1.5million youngsters (see press release here).
Partnering with CEC is a crucial step. CEC and the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) they work with have a vast network of co-ordinators and advisers who have the responsibility to help teachers navigate the bewildering array of external initiatives relating to careers advice and STEM education. CEC can now give teachers and advisors critical training so they can access business leaders in their local community with just a couple of key-strokes – for free.
This is going to have two major impacts:
- It will mean that thousands more schools can draw on the F4S community of leaders of successful growing businesses who are responsible for creating 100% of the net new jobs that these teenagers will soon be seeking.
- It will mean that we will be able to record the impact of our student employability programmes. The F4S service tracks the decisions on study options made by pupils and the results they get. This data will be priceless in helping us to understand what gets the best results for students and to share what doesn’t work.
Further to that, we will focus this training on England’s most needy areas so the ‘post-code’ lottery for youth employability will be stopped. All young people in our school system deserve to be prepared for the world of work.
Another benefit from this news is that it represents a huge endorsement of evidence-based ed-tech charities. CEC have selected the best schemes across the country to partner with, so to have been given their backing is a compelling stamp of approval.
So over the next six months we expect to see things step up another gear or two.
If you are one of our volunteer business leaders, expect to be contacted by a teacher at a school near you.
And if you are a teacher please speak to your school’s CEC co-ordinator to find out how you can start using F4S.
There’s still a lot of work to do, and more exciting news to come.
Thanks so much, as always, for your continued support.