Founders4School’s Work Experience App

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Founders4School’s Work Experience App due to launch 25 Jan at BETT 2017.

The Trustees of Founders4Schools and I believe this service will be transformative to the UK economy.

The objective of the app is to offer the 1.2 million secondary school students the ability to apply for and monitor Work Experience placements with growing businesses near them while they are at secondary school.

We have run employer consultations, student consultations and school consultations over the past year, secured a corporate sponsor who will pay us to create these placements if the student is from a disadvantaged background and are building the app right now.

This service was developed on the back of the excellent work done by the April 2016 House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility, which highlighted the value of and shortcomings in opportunities for work experience in the UK.

Our service will be locally available and we have access to 15,500 potential providers right now due to the previous investments we have made, so we believe that there will be enough opportunities for young people to experience work.

Two-thirds of employers say that work experience is a critical or significant factor when they are recruiting; yet under one-third actually offer some form of work placement or experience to unemployed people, school children or college students.

If employers wish to recruit people ready for the workplace, they must offer experiences of work to school students to help them to develop these skills.

We are seeking donations to defray the investment cost of developing the service from a syndicate of foundations, corporations and individuals, and you may have a view as to who else we should speak to.

Anyone who chooses to support us, this would have a direct impact on our goal to improve the employability of the next generations of school leavers through our Work Experience programme, and will help decrease the number of students Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) which currently stands at 8.4% of young people aged between 16-19.

Yours sincerely,

Sherry Coutu CBE


Project Brief: Work Experience for secondary school students (England)

1. The Opportunity

In April 2016 the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility published a report on improving the transition from school to work. Key findings of the report emphasised the importance of improving careers guidance and advice for young people and highlighted the value of and shortcomings in opportunities for work experience in the UK.

The report concluded that work experience is an essential enabler of the school/workplace transition, adding that young adults who could recall high levels of employer contacts throughout their education experience were 20 per cent less likely to be NEETs at the end of school, and 18 per cent more likely to earn more. The report also reported several challenging factors:

Young people tend to gain work experience through their informal networks, which limits them to what is available through those networks. This means that within the current system, aspirations remain fixed.

  • Experience needs to be locally available, as 16 and 17-year-olds do not travel
  • There are not enough opportunities for young people to experience work
  • Two-thirds of employers say that work experience is a critical or significant factor when they are recruiting; yet under one-third actually offer some form of work placement or experience to unemployed people, school children or college students. If employers wish to recruit people ready for the workplace, they must offer experiences of work to school students to help them to develop these skills

Employers require different types of placements for different purposes, but all are important to the businesses they support. Smaller employers tend to offer single, shorter placements, while larger employers have multiple and longer placements available, and are more likely to offer internships.

The report “Increasing the offer of work experience: can demand match supply?” from the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), reveals that all work placements are tied to business need and improve student employability.

As you know, 82 per cent of scale-ups report that they could grow their company faster if the people who applied to them had the specific skills they needed; the CBI lists low levels of skills in the workforce as the single biggest perceived threat to UK competitiveness in the next five years; and the Royal Society’s vision report forecasted that the number of new science, engineering and tech professionals required in the UK by 2020 will increase by an additional 1 million people.

This document proposes a national work experience service that addresses these challenges and connects students to SMEs; the primary provider of new job opportunities in the UK. The service will be quick and easy to use, and builds on a tried and tested online service capability and an easily searchable database of UK SMEs.

2. The Founders4Schools Work Experience Proposal

Why Founders4Schools?

Founders4Schools’ (F4S) mission is to improve the employability of every young person in education, by giving them access to business leaders in their community.

At F4S our goal is to prepare all young people for the jobs of the future and provide them with opportunities that will help them have high-impact careers. We exist to provide them with the tools that will inspire them and enable them to experience what it’s like to work in a fast growing company, in roles and sectors that are in high demand and will be relevant when they leave education.

F4S has already developed deep insights into the value of students interacting with business leaders during school years through the F4S service. We are ideally positioned to connect two huge sources of talent and future growth.
F4S already uses its partnerships with key industry players LinkedIn and DueDil to maintain comprehensive, up to date intelligence on small and medium enterprises in the UK, and will harness this unique capability to connect students to work experience opportunities nearby. We know from our current business leader partners that many of them are keen to provide work experience.
We will build on our relationships with more than 600 educational partners, including Teach First, Prince’s Trust, Barclays and the Careers and Enterprise Company to ensure that the work experience is offered first and foremost to those who need it most.

How the new service will work?

F4S Work Experience extends the current F4S national offering, which already provides services to teachers and their students at a hyper-local level. The new service will enable school students to explore their local labour market and to approach employers via our easy-to-use mobile app.

Students will have the ability to view, shortlist and apply to companies that interest them using our proprietary recommendations. Each student will be provided with a personal ‘dashboard’ to keep a log of their work experience activities as they improve their work readiness and skills over the years.

When combined with the current F4S service, this provides the potential to include multiple activity types – so that a student’s dashboard will include a timeline with the following:

  • A log of several role model events
  • Note of the companies they met at the careers fairs at their school
  • Applying for and undertaking (several) work experience placements

Young people will be encouraged to evaluate and score their work experience, and to receive feedback from the employer. The dashboard will be structured in a timeline format that will enable them to see their progress month after month, from year to year.

Founders4Schools Business Leaders will receive messages from Founders4Schools on behalf of the student explaining that the student is seeking a work placement and sharing with the employer the student’s CV and cover letter. If the business leader accepts the application, Founders4Schools will receive a fee for the placement. Access to an employer dashboard enables the employer to interact with the applicant and feed back to the student on their performance. The employers will also receive briefings on how to best offer work experience and will have access to what students say about their work experience.

The service will benefit a number of stakeholders:

Students: The service gives control to students to explore work experience that they feel is relevant and convenient to them. Students receive guidance and briefings on how to conduct themselves at work, and access to other students’ feedback on how prospective employers are rated as Work Experience providers.
Matching: The service allows the work placement to take place over the platform.
Matching: The service allows the work placement to take place over the platform.
Feedback: The student keeps and can invite others to view their record of their experience so that other students can learn from their experience.
SMEs: Provides busy and resource-constrained SME HR functions an easy, one-stop channel to access their future talent pool.
Schools: Expands access to relevant local employers and increases schools’ ability to help students prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.
Parents: Provides them with a tool to help their children explore the local labour market and access to the leaders who run those companies.

Across UK scale-ups, the service will match talent and capacity, preparing a young workforce for productive, high-value careers in businesses that deliver growth.

3. Project Objective

Founders4Schools will create a Work Experience service to enable a secondary school student to discover, compare, undertake and evaluate meaningful work experiences that build their skills and confidence.

The service will enable an employer to find relevant work experience candidates and to easily provide them with constructive feedback.

Target student population: The service will be marketed to 6th form students in schools that use the F4S Role Model and Careers Services we provide.

The F4S offer described in this document will not target university students or other young persons outside secondary education. F4S will seek to work with other organisations to achieve a smooth transition for students as they leave school and enter university.

Employers: This service will provide students with access to leaders of companies with more than £ 1 million in turnover, where that turnover is increasing, as this is where the majority of new UK employment opportunities are created.

Founders4Schools is seeking corporate sponsorship to make the service available free of charge to students.

Development Plan

The following development plan has been followed::

Definition, Planning and Funding

F4S has defined the Work Experience proposition and is seeking assistance in securing resources to support delivery of the plan.


To ensure widespread take-up and adoption of the service, the design has been informed by the needs and preferences of school students and employers.

Student consultations:

Students will be consulted on their understanding of work experience, how they might approach the marketplace, how they would use a service and the features they would value. This work is underway.

School consultations:

Secondary schools who use the Founders4Schools Role Model and Career Services have been consulted on their understanding of work experience, how they would use a service and the features they would value. This work is underway and we are clear that our approach is novel and a significant improvement to what is currently on offer.

Employer consultations:

Employers will be consulted on the types of work experience they find easiest to offer, and how they would prefer to filter interest and give feedback to students. This work is underway.


    • F4S has agreed with Barclays LifeSkills to embed their briefings for employers and students.
    • F4S has agreements in place with LinkedIn and links to Government databases so that only relevant employers will be approached.
    • F4S has developed the service WITH students so we are confident that the solution we have in mind will be empowering and engaging for them.
    • F4S has developed this service with several schools throughout the country

Service Design:

Based on the consultation, a work placement service will be designed end-to-end.

Platform Design and Build

F4S anticipates that the service will need to be available both on desktop and as an app for mobiles; this will be confirmed at the consultation stage above. Current plans assume that the student journey will be on an app, and that the employer functions will be solely desktop-based.

Platform Design and Build

The service will be created in partnership with schools and employers with whom F4S has worked in the past.  Once the service platforms are proven to be technically stable, the service will be prototyped in Cambridge and Manchester, where F4S has already secured a strong user and partner base.

Roll out to scale

Following successful pilot the service will be marketed and promoted to STUDENTS, with support available to ensure the service is understood and fully utilised.  Take-up and usage will continue to be tracked using the metrics below.

5. Milestones * (paid for to date by a single HNW individual)

Definition, planning and funding May 2016
Consultation May – July 2016
Service design June – Sept 2016
Platform design and build Sept – Dec 2016
Beta test and pilot launch Jan – Mar 2017
Roll out Jan 25 2017 onwards *


6. Measuring success

Following launch, F4S intends to track the following indicators across pilot LEPs (and subsequently across the UK) to assess take up and effectiveness of the service:

  • Students and employers that register to use the service
  • Schools that register to use the service
  • Impact of the service in terms of student subject choices (for participating schools only)
  • Students using the service to request a placement
  • Employers using the service to offer a placement
  • Number of placements successfully brokered
  • Satisfaction rating of users of the service
  • Aged open placement offers
  • Student and employer satisfaction feedback on completed placements

7. Marketing the service

We plan to release the new service to students with the support of schools and partners who already use our service.

A year in review (f4s)

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1 Jan 2017

Dear F4S Stakeholders,

As I look back on 2016, I wanted to share with you my reflections on our progress to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds become more employable.

To date, founders4schools has facilitated 44,000 students connecting with employers to help students better understand the world they will enter when they are older and the jobs they might hold or create in the future.  The briefings we share with the employers prior to these student-employer encounters ensures that they impart how moments of choice influence the lives that the students will lead in coming years.

The impact of student-employer encounters is well known: research has shown that students who have 4 student-employer encounters are 5 times less likely to become NEET and 3 times more likely to choose a STEM subject.

As you may know, founders4Schools began in 2011 as a service extension of Silicon Valley Comes to the UK.  Once the depth of the skills crisis became apparent and the impact student-employer encounters had, we worked with teachers, parents and leaders of the business community to create a solution that addressed the problem of youth employability at scale. In June 2013 we released our ‘beta’ platform that enabled teachers to create in-class student-employer encounters in the same amount of time it took them to order a book from amazon or groceries from tesco.  In 2015, we created a charity by spinning out the project from ‘Silicon Valley comes to the UK and today, our Trustees, work in collaboration with Partners to capture the imagination of young people that gives them the confidence and skills to create the innovations that will define our future.  In 2016 we provided services to educators, business leaders, local government, and corporate supporters.  In 2017, we will improve upon the services that work well, discontinue those that don’t and introduce services for students for the first time.

Services for educators:

Today we are blessed that teachers in schools in 30 of 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships in the UK use f4s search services to find leaders from their local business community in order to arrange a wide variety of student-employer encounters.

  • We provide teachers who arrange student-employer encounters with a “teacher account dashboard” to help keep track of their encounters over time.

  • We assist teachers who arrange Student-Employer Encounters by 

    • Briefing the employers on their behalf

    • Sending them Alerts whenever a business leader accepts their invitation

    • Preparing a ‘Guest visitor briefing’ for them to send to the school office

    • Surveying them once the encounters have taken place, to see what they thought of the guests.  If a teacher feels a guest they sourced over our services to be ‘needing improvement’, we remove that leader from appearing in future search results. 

  • Teachers who have registered to receive our (weekly) teacher briefings enjoy peer insights from other teachers about how best to inspire students to make the best choices with regards to subjects and activities. 

  • The teacher toolkit on our web-site provides a rich treasure-trove of student-employer encounter videos, lesson-plans and case-studies teachers have shared with us to make available to their peers, 

  • Our headteacher briefings provide valuable insights as to how other schools approach careers talks, work experience, enterprise days and teacher training with regards to employability. 

In 2017, teachers who have arranged student-employer encounters with us, will receive personalised recommendations of encounters they might consider arranging based on our local labour market insights.

Services for local government

  • Our (quarterly) employability reports provide those who lead local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnership with research as to how other communities are tackling the skills gap so they can benchmark their own progress. 

  • Our monthly CEC webinars provide CEC coordinators and Enterprise Advisors with personalized employability recommendations of how to improve the employability of students in that community.  These are currently funded to July 2017 via the Careers & Enterprise Company.

  • Our alert services provides alerts to subscribers so they know whenever an employability event has been arranged to take place in the geographic area.

Services for corporate supporters

  • Our partner insight services provides personalized student-employer encounter impact analyses on a real-time basis to our partners.

  • Our (monthly) partner e-briefings shares insights about how teachers and partners in our network are tackling the skills-gap. 

  • Our employee-engagement services for large corporates are in beta at the moment and under review.  If you’d like to know more, let us know. 

Services for business leaders who volunteer their time to students

  • Our (monthly) business leader briefings provide insights to our volunteers on the impact of f4s-powered student-employer encounters and insights into what works best.  We also highlight research (from others) as to what types of encounters work best for certain age groups for tackling the skills gap which they suffer from as employers.

  • Our personalized business leader event briefings provide business leaders with guidance as to how best to tailor their encounter with the students in order to inspire them.

  • Our personalized business leader “account dashboard” makes it easy for business leaders to keep track of the student-employer encounters they have agreed to over time.

  • We also share with them event feedback from the survey we conducted with the teacher immediately after their encounter.

I remain in awe of the extent to which the business community generously gives their time when asked to do so for the employability of students in their communities and hope to host an awards ceremony that recognizes the contribution they are making along with a new employer insight reporting service dedicated to the business leaders who do the most in their communities.

I would like to thank the following partners for their continued support of our mission: Barclays, The Hunter Foundation, CEC, Hugh Campbell of GP Bullhound, LinkedIn, Postcode Anywhere, DueDil, Salesforce, BBC, Goldman Sachs, In Kind Direct, JP Morgan and Digital Catapult. Their support is critical to our success and on behalf of the team I am very grateful.

Looking forward to 2017, we intend to make improvements to the services we provide to educators, local government, partners as well as introduce work placement services for students for the first time.

Best wishes,

Sherry Coutu CBE

F4S Student-Employer Encounters

As of the 1 January 2017, F4S had facilitated more than 127,000 student-employer encounters.  The following pages summarise key questions asked by stakeholders:

  1. What age are the students who benefit from the student-employer encounters arranged by teachers using F4s?

  2. What type of student-employer encounters are usually arranged by teachers using F4s?

  3. Which cities are the heaviest users of F4S services?

  4. Are teachers in the greatest areas of need using services like F4S?

  5. What schools are using F4S services the most?

  6. Which encounter type makes the most difference to student outcomes?

Student-employer encounters: Distribution by Age of Student 

  • We are pleased with the age distribution which means that our concentration on ensuring students meet business leaders when they are facing their key moments of choice is working.

  • The pie chart on the left shows that the encounters teachers arranged span primary and secondary age students from 8 to 18 years old.

  • The most student-employer encounters have taken place with 14 to 16 year olds. The Stacked bar-chart on the right shows a trend towards encounters being arranged for 15 and 16 year-old students which is in line with the current curricular guidance and our own business development that concentrated on partnerships focused on secondary school students.  In 2017, we hope to release impact analyses that enable us to guide teachers as to the best term to arrange career talks, work place visits, work experience and enterprise days and the best age for these types of encounters.

Student-employer encounters: Distribution by Type of Encounter:

Teachers can arrange ‘in-class, whole-school or ‘at workplace’ encounters over our service: In class services have been available over our platform since 2013 and we introduced ‘whole ‘school’ services early in 2016 and ‘at workplace’ services in late 2016.

In terms of “in-class services”, the following encounter-types are available:

  • career learning co-delivered by teachers and employers (Introduced April 2016)

  • careers talks (since inception)

  • curriculum learning co-delivered by teachers and employers (introduced April 2016)

  • cv workshops (introduced Nov 2016)

  • employer delivered employability skills workshops (since inception)

  • enterprise activities (since inception)

  • mock interviews (since inception)

  • employer mentoring (introduced Nov 2016)

  • enterprise competitions (since inception)

In terms of “whole-school services”, the following encounter-types are now available:

  • careers fairs (introduced Jan 2016)

  • careers talks (since inception)

In terms of “at workplace services”, the following encounter-types are now available:

  • work place visits (introduced June 2016)

  • 1-2 week work experience (introduced Jan 2017)

From 2017, we will introduce impact reporting by encounter type as a result of a major upgrade that we were able to make because of a grant from the Careers & Enterprise Company.

Student-employer encounters: Distribution by Geography: 

We are pleased that teachers are arranging student-employer encounters throughout the UK.

As at 1 Jan 2017, Cambridge, London, and Thames Valley Berkshire lead the student-employer league tables with 112, 58 and 49 student employer encounters per 1000 students.  We aspire to 4000 student-employer encounters per 1000 student population, but remain very far away from that goal.

Employability reports by LEP were made possible due to a grant we received from the Careers and Employment Company.

Student-employer encounters:  Distribution by Need:

We recognise that some young people have a greater need for career support than others.This may be because they lack the family networks that can support their career aspirations, because they are not doing very well at school or because they are struggling to find opportunities in the area in which they live.

We think it is important that career support is channelled to those who need it and to where it can make the most difference.

This section sets out our report of where career support is most needed. We have used existing data to look at this and to identify the areas that CEC refers to as cold spots. We will use this analysis to inform the strategy of founders4schools and to guide the direction of our resources.

The figure below, which is accurate as of 1 Jan 2017, shows that there is a significant amount of effort being made in the areas of greatest need, but it also shows that there is more work to be done: It is heartening to see that for every LEP in each CEC category of need we have examples of high adopters to match those that do not use our services.

We will work with partners to address the ten LEPs in the greatest area of need with the least student-employerencounters in 2017.

Local Enterprise Partnership Areas with the greatest need:

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (7/0)| The Marches (5/0)  | Worcester (5/0) | Tees Valley (5/2) |  Liverpool (5/2.5) |  Stoke on Trent (4/0) |  Leicester (4/1.4) |  South East Midlands (4/4.3) |  Solent (4/5.2) |  Leeds (4/6.5) |  York and North Yorkshire (4/7.8) |  Sheffield (4/8.6)

Student-employer encounters: Innovation by Schools

We are grateful to the hundreds of teachers who use our services in innovative ways to further the employability of their students and it is difficult to highlight one over the other.  Having said that, these teachers stand out in particular for their pioneering efforts that we believe to be of particularly high impact: What will the students want to do when they grow up and what subjects they will choose in order to get there? We are certain that his drawing on local businesses will make a huge difference to the paths students take and we look forward to reporting to you the impact as soon as the analyses are complete.

In-Class: Career Talks

Paul Butterworth from West Hill School, near Manchester.

With 4480 student-employer encounters to his name so far, Paul leads the way on arranging 7 times more encounters with business leaders than the national average.

In-Class: Mentoring

Diarmuid Molloy,  from UCL Academy in London.

Diarmuid pioneered an employer mentoring programme at UTC to give 12-18 years old students the opportunity to work in teams with employers on real projects.

In-Class: Diversity

Diarmuid also pioneered using female business leaders with STEM backgrounds in to help his students explore study and career paths. We encourage all teachers to follow his lead in March  during women-in-stem week

In-Class: Curriculum

Richard Northover, from Holland Park School in London.

Richard pioneered integrating business leaders into the school day by substituting traditional tutor time activities with talks from role models in order to raise the aspirations of his 16 and 17 year old Year 11 students. He also arranges business leaders to speak to large groups of age 13, 14, & 15 students in Year 9 and Year 10.

At-Workplace: Secondary
Dawn Woodcock from Tottenham UTC, in London.

Dawn is our leading example of how teachers use Workplace Visits to give her age 16 to 18 students a sense of what kind of work their degree might lead to.  We particularly like her “Computer Science UCAS Visits” for students considering Computer Science at University.

At-Workplace: Primary
Rosemary O’Brien from Torriano Primary School in London.

Rosemary is our leading example of how primary school teachers use Workplace Visits to give her age 10 and 11 year old students a sense of high impact careers in growth sectors that will be relevant when they leave education.


Careers Fairs

Beckie Knight-Croft from Bexleyheath Academy in, London.

Beckie pioneered careers fairs that feature speed-networking in small groups. 12 to 15 year old students encounter 10 employersper hour.

Student-employer encounters: Distribution by Type & Impact

We are excited to be working with Cambridge Assessment and the Careers and Enterprise company to help ascertain the impact of student employer encounters by type in 2017.  This workstream was originally funded by the Nominet Trust and we are very excited about sharing the outcomes as they emerge because it will allow us to further refine the teacher briefings we make and the personalised recommendations we make to teachers and students regarding their next encounter.