Shaping Tomorrow’s City Today – The Lord Mayor’s Show 2018

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In 1215 King John’s disastrous reign was falling apart. His armies were retreating in France, he was completely broke and his Barons were on the edge of open revolt. Soon he would be forced to sign the Magna Carta, which he would go on ignoring until civil war finally broke out and he died of dysentery while marching from one besieged city to another.

During this time, London had been trying to organise itself into a ‘commune’: a sort of early city state that would be able to declare its borders, make agreements and defend itself. The King may have thought it was a clever move to go along with this, and in 1215 he issued a Royal Charter creating the commune and allowing the City to elect its own Mayor every year.

The King added a condition: every year the newly elected Mayor must leave the safety of the City, travel upriver to the small town of Westminster and swear loyalty to him. The Lord Mayor has now made that journey for over 800 years….bringing us up to 2018….

On the 10th November, Founders4Schools was invited to participate in the Lord Mayor’s Show to support this year’s theme Shaping Tomorrow’s City Today”. Given that our mission is to improve youth employability by connecting the youth with tomorrow’s workplace, we were proud to be given a home in the Engagement Zone in the Bloomberg building to interact with the festive audience.

In the spirit of the theme we created 20 STEM-oriented future career cards that young people could choose from. These careers are tipped to become some of the popular jobs in the near future and we wanted to see how families would react to them. Not surprisingly, young people gravitated to the careers seeming to already recognise most of them, with Space Pilot and Future Farmer being the most favoured.


The cards also included on the back the description of the future jobs and what school subjects and activities they could do to navigate themselves towards these future roles. For a bit of extra fun, we asked them to pose into our branded Instagram frame which also roamed around the show capturing a few surprise shots along the way!


It was a wonderful day, blessed with sunshine for most of the day. Audiences marveled at the world’s oldest, longest and most splendid civic procession: an hour and a half of old London pomp and pageantry leading up to the newly restored State Coach.

We wish to thank the 691st Lord Mayor, Peter Estlin for his support and kind invitation for Founders4Schools to join the show, Bloomberg for helping us prepare for the show and making us feel welcomed, the F4S staff that joined us on on the weekend and the wonderful families that took the time to engage us on the day.


Bringing LifeSkills to More Young People Through Workfinder

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Founders4Schools, an EdTech charity are pleased to be launching their WorkFinder app which will allow young people to access placements with businesses. As part of the experience of using WorkFinder young people will be signposted to a series of resources provided by LifeSkills, created with Barclays. LifeSkills is a programme that aims to give young people aged 11-24 years old access to skills and experiences designed to prepare them for the future world of work.

Sherry Coutu, CBE, Executive Chair of Founders4Schools, said, “It’s a daunting prospect for a 16-18 year old to go into a work environment for the first time and I’m delighted we are able to give them support and reassurance on that journey. How else will young people know what shape their careers could take and how else can we ensure businesses have the skills they need to grow and prosper in the challenging future we face? It really does take a village to raise a child.”

Ashok Vaswani, CEO, Barclays UK, states: “We welcome the Founders4Schools initiative to drive more work experience opportunities across the UK for young people. Our experience from running the LifeSkills programme shows us that young people need a practical insight into the world of work which is vital for the workforce of tomorrow to gain the confidence and valuable skills needed by employers both today and in the future. We know the more interventions that a young person has with employers at an early age, the more likely they are to succeed in their careers.”

Work experience offers young people valuable insights into the world of work, the ‘softer’ skills they need to pick up and help understanding their future options. Workfinder helps them take control and connect directly with employers, removing the need for reliance on family networks to connect to opportunities.

Making it easier for educators to provide useful careers programmes for young people

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This week (4th July) F4S welcomed an independence day of a different kind, as we announced a major collaboration with The Careers & Enterprise Company to make it easier for educators to provide useful careers programmes for young people.

School leadership teams will be looking forward to the summer break more than ever, to enjoy the sunny weather and as respite from a very challenging year that meant balancing new curriculums, exam grading structures and much more.

‘Much more’ included the requirement, set out in the Government’s Careers Strategy, to appoint a dedicated careers lead and publish their local strategy on the school website by September 2018, shortly after the new term begins.

I believe the Government is right to raise standards on careers provision in schools and push for more focus, especially for England where it has been lacking for some time. I am also a supporter of increasing powers to The Careers & Enterprise Company, and organisation I helped to establish at the same time I was helping LinkedIn to scale up across markets, to make that happen.

It’s never been more important to help young people prepare for the world of work, so I welcome the opening up of collaborations that make this easier for educators, like the one we announced at the Annual Careers & Enterprise Company’s conference this week. [announcement here].

The great thing about this collaboration is that we sent one of our engineers to set up an Application Programming Interface (API) between our free-to-use platform and The Careers and Enterprise Company’s Tracker tool. This means that the thousands of educators who use our service don’t have to double report – everything they do on Founders4Schools and Workfinder platforms will show up on the CEC tracker automatically.

We also update our recommendations engine so that the guidance we give to educators is even more relevant to them in their school, and reflects other encounters that are taking place on other providers’ platforms. It’s like a guidance system to move them through the Gatsby benchmarks to great careers provision!

I have founded, invested and supported some amazing businesses during my career, and am passionate about technology solutions like this. Whether in the recruitment marketplace at LinkedIn or the housing market with Zoopla, applying technology to connect, collaborate and disrupt is what makes a step change happen. We are on the edge of a transformation for education, and I want to agitate like crazy to help teachers help young people to transition beyond school life in brilliant ways by connecting with business.

As Executive Chair for Founders4schools and Workfinder – two charities dedicated to eradicating the skills gap which is plaguing the competitive advantage of the UK and impacting future productivity – I am proud that to date we have helped educators to connect more than 130,000 young people with business leader volunteers – in more than 370,000 student employer encounters, and that our services are used by educators in every LEP and more than 300 Local Authorities.

So, how did this partnership develop? There were a number of stages:

  1. Research: We identified Cold Spots and pulled together research to find out which areas needed most focus.
  2. We created the BIGRI index, which classified the businesses from which we have volunteers according to their size, growth and location.
  3. Mapping – we then knew which areas could struggle to achieve our target 4 student-employer encounters per student*. This inspired us to introduce Student-Employee Encounters per 1,000 in our Local Authority reporting.
  4. Data – we introduced reporting to show at Local Authority, LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership), constituency and business level, the number of Student-Employer Encounters per 1000.
  5. We introduced Co-ordinator reports, for them to track which schools were achieving their Student-Employer Encounters targets.
  6. We then incorporated research from The Careers and Enterprise Company and collated that to improve the guidance we give to educators and specifically those encounters that make a contribution to achievement of GATSBY benchmarks.

*Four Student-Employer Encounters per student is crucial because research has shown this reduces the likelihood of young people becoming NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) by 86%.

I am completely aligned with The Careers and Enterprise Company in the focus on GATSBY benchmarks to create milestones for connected careers provision that truly makes a difference to student outcomes. We are now embedding Enabling Enterprise’s framework into the personalised recommendations educators receive when they subscribe to F4S learning platform.

We were delighted to announce this collaboration this week. It means that the thousands of educators who use our service don’t have to double report – everything they do on Founders4Schools and Workfinder platforms can be reported to and show up on Tracker – without the educator needing to lift a finger.

I’m sure that will be very welcome come September.


To talk about MORE COLLABORATIONS LIKE THIS, contact me on

The Careers & Enterprise Company and Founders4Schools join forces to simplify careers provision for schools

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The Careers & Enterprise Company and Founders4Schools join forces to simplify careers provision for schools

(London, Wednesday 4 July 2018): The Careers & Enterprise Company, established to provide high impact careers support to young people, and award-winning GovTech charity Founders4Schools (F4S) have joined forces in a pilot project to help schools using both services benefit from employer engagement more easily. F4S Founder and Chairman Sherry Coutu CBE delivered a talk at the event transcribed below:


I’m Sherry Coutu – an economist turned computer programmer turned entrepreneur, investor, mother and philanthropist.  I am chair of Founders4schools and Workfinder, which are two charities dedicated to eradicating the skills gap which is plaguing the competitive advantage of the UK and elsewhere.

To date, we have helped educators to connect more than  130,000 young people our volunteers – in more than 370,000 student employer encounters, and our services are used by educators in every LEP and more than 300 Local Authorities.  We use technology common in other industries to benefit educators and students here- our learning platform gives any educator who uses our services a ‘GATSBY GPS system’ so they know how to help their students the most.

We are a charity that was founded before CEC existed, but instead of being crowded out by them, we, and the educators, career leaders who use our services have benefited.

I go back a long time on collaboration, in fact, my thesis at Harvard Business school in 1993 was on strategic alliances in high tech firms.  Ever since then, I’ve practiced collaboration and forged strategic alliances and so was very pleased to be asked to talk about the deepening of our collaboration today by Claudia.

I thought I might go back to when I first was speaking to Lord Young about his idea to form CEC and passport – this was several years back when I as an advisor to LinkedIn, helping them roll out across nations, but in particular, helping introduce their API to the developer community in London.


I was a big advocate of CEC being formed and was pleased when then appointed


And I was pleased when I first spoke with Christine and very much on her mind was getting the Chief Executive appointed.

EXECUTION – enter Claudia Harris, freshly poached from Mckinsey, here to lead

What follows is the story of how our partnership developed.

First Research:   Cold Spots – this was really helpful at pulling together all the research to find out which areas needed the most focus.

→ this inspired me to devise the BIGRI index, which classified the businesses we have volunteers from according to their size, growth and location – so e could map the cold-spots in the UK so we could see where it might be hardest to achieve our 4 student-employer encounters per student.

→ in inspired us to introduce Student-Employer Encounters per 1000 in our local authority reporting

First Funding:  

We introduced LEP reporting, to supplement our constituency and local authority reporting.

We introduced Coordinator reports so that the coordinators could keep track of which schools were achieving their Student Employer Encounters

Research they commissioned & collated on quality of encounters-

  • Inspired us to improve the guidance we gave to educators who used our services and to
  • introduce guidance as to which of the encounters that were available over our services made a contribution to which of the GATSBY benchmarks.

Their introduction to us of Enabling Enterprise spawned that partnership, and we now embed Enabling Enterprise’s framework into the personalised recommendations educators receive when they subscribe to our free learning platform.

Today I’m really pleased to finally be announcing an integration with Tracker, having worked with their team and given them one of my engineers to get their API up and running – just as I used to do for Linkedin 6-7 years ago.  The reason I am so excited about this is it means that the thousands of educators who use our service don’t have to double-report – everything they do on Founders4Schools and Workfinder platforms, can be reported to CEC and show up on the CEC tracker – without the educator needing to lift a finger.

Furthermore, assuming we are given permission by the educator to know where they currently stand on GATSBY, we can update our recommendation engine so that the guidance we give to educators also reflects other encounters that are taking place on other providers platforms

O-Auth transformed a fragmented tech industry some time ago in SV – its nice to see these lessons applied in the UK – our children and grand-children deserve the best, and our educators need all the tools and training in their tools to do the job that only they can do – freeing them of admin hassle is excellent and giving them the worlds’ best guidance whenever the need it (because they are not experts) is a must.  A pleasure to be here with you today – can’t wait to see what we do together in the coming three years –

Let’s move the dots now that they are joined up….

CEC & F4S Tracker Intergration Demo Video

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5th International Conference on Employer Engagement in Education and Training

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With just a week to go before the 5th International Conference on Employer Engagement in Education and Training, I have been reflecting on the urgent need to Equip the future workforce with the skills to enable them to work with, not compete with, technology solutions in the jobs market.   

That’s why I’m delighted to be presenting at the Education and Employers conference (taking place in London on 5 & 6 July) when we will be debating employer engagement and training relative to skills in the context of social mobility, the fourth industrial revolution and the future of the youth labour market.

I want you to engage in this debate NOW.

The Industrial Strategy White Paper, launched on 27 November 2017, presents the UK with an opportunity for purposeful growth backed by significant investment. Couple this with the challenges facing the implementation of new T Levels and the likely shortfalls in the number of apprenticeships, we must build alliances across Government, business and social enterprise urgently.

That’s why we are working in partnership with enterprises like Barclays, The Prince’s Trust and Rolls Royce through the Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP) and elsewhere.

Founders4Schools celebrated its 3rd birthday as a charity earlier this month. The work of Education and Employers has guided us along the way. Research in 2017 by Professor Anthony Mann et. al. found that just four encounters with business leaders render a child 86% less likely to become NEET (not in employment, education or training) beyond school-age years.

We are an GovTech charity dedicated to improving the life chances of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who lack access to professional role models, by connecting them to business leaders.

This focus has meant that 94% of students who have met business leaders via F4S tell us they are inspired, and their teachers report they are three times more likely to go on to consider studying a STEM subject.

Business leaders are amazing because they encourage students, particularly girls, to get interested in STEM subjects, help them understand local jobs markets, and enable personalised guidance towards 140 hours of work experience. Our extensive range of services focus on those places where young people are likely to receive free school meals and can’t rely on parental networks to make the right connections.

So, I am excited to be presenting alongside Professor Mann on Day Two of the conference.

During my talk I will focus on the Government’s Industrial Strategy and its potential to form partnerships between education and business.

I will show how F4S uses data feeds from the government and commercial services like LinkedIn and Duedil, as well as AI and machine learning to give personalised advice and guidance to teachers which maps to all the Gatsby benchmarks and allows them to progress through all these in record time.

I will demonstrate how these same principles underlie the personalised recommendations given to students from disadvantaged backgrounds when they use Workfinder. Workfinder is our app which enables young people to access 140 hours of varied and meaningful work experience by the time they are 18 years of age.

I will show how, with the aid of AI enhanced technologies like F4S and Workfinder, robots are actually creating employable people rather than ‘eating their jobs’.

Finally, I will bring to life real experiences of how we have made a difference in communities. For example, Stirling Council was faced with accelerating changes to the local labour market. By talking directly to head teachers, within weeks 90% of students in the local authority had met at least 1 employer in their classrooms. The Council is now recommending Workfinder, targeted at students who can’t rely on parents’ networks to help.

There’s so much to discuss. Please come along and join in the conversation.

The 5th International Conference on Employer Engagement in Education and Training, 2018, will be held on 5th and 6th July, at The BEIS Conference Centre, London Westminster. You can purchase tickets Here.

F4S is accepted onto NESTA’s Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP) fund

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We recently applied for NESTA’s Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP) fund and are happy to announce that we were accepted. The programme brings together business, civil society and government to help address major societal challenges facing those on low to middle incomes. One of the challenges we seek to tackle through the programme is Transition to Work: Moving young people from education, unemployment or inactivity into jobs. We thank NESTA for the opportunity and look forward to working with you.

New Service Features Update

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April 11th 2018

It has been a busy few months at Founders4Schools with a swag of new service features being added to both our original service to book business leaders into schools and Workfinder; our latest service to connect young people 16-24 years with fast growing companies. The following outline those recent updates. We wish to thank our team, funding partners, educators, business leaders, young people and those that advise us for helping us evolve and constantly improve our service.

New Diaries Function

The diary function was introduced in direct response to feedback schools across the country. Students often carry out work experience one afternoon a week, rather than in ‘blocks’ of consecutive weeks. This allows for greater flexibility for schools, young people and the businesses when booking placements. We have therefore built this into Workfinder so young people can now specify one morning, afternoon or full days a week that they would be available for work experience, as well as being able to choose a full time block.The feature update is still in development and we’ll keep you posted to it’s release date.

A huge thank you to Keith Staines and Stuart McInnes for leading on this feature update.

Workfinder WEP provider redirect link

To improve workfinder’s user experience we integrated an automatic redirect to our companies and partners websites that have established onboarding processes. It was a request that came from our business community to help them assess applicants and we are proud to say that it will increase the turnaround time and success rate for placement opportunities, benefitting both applicants and businesses with their own processes. It is currently live as of March 16th 2018.

We wish to thank Andrew Miller for bringing this feature update to life!

CV upload function

Recent focus groups with students and feedback from business leaders brought to our attention the need for a CV upload function. Currently, we provide an easy to use cover letter builder. Students wanted to provide more defining information about their unique experiences and business leaders also wanted the opportunity to learn more about applicants during the applications process. Now, when a student applies they can simply add/upload their cv with their cover letter.

The feature is currently live as of the 14th March and we welcome more feedback from users to how to further improve the application process.

A big shout out to those working on this feature update: Jake Lopez, Stuart McInnes, Keith Staines and Andrew Miller.

Teacher Dashboard

In a collaborative project with UFI and Nominet Trust we are developing a significant feature set upgrade for teachers. The Teacher Dashboard empowers teachers to request work experience placement vouchers and assign it to their students so they can monitor the progress of their pupils applying for work experience. Although very easy to use and reduces the admin time teachers, it serves as a powerful tool to help all of their pupils prepare for the world of work equally. The dashboard is planned to launch early April 2018.

This significant update will be brought to you by our fearless team members: Jake Lopez, Stuart McInnes, Alice Oakley and Bruno Alla.

Villiers Park

The Villiers Park INVOLVE initiative has been designed to enhance everyday classroom learning by empowering students to lead on enriching the learning communities in their schools and colleges. Students benefit through gaining key academic and personal skills which are recognised through an Award system.

Founders4Schools have partnered with Villiers Park to offer a unique, one-of-a-kind INVOLVE project. Through this project, students are able to design their own inspiring career event in their school and invite local business leaders to take part through the F4S portal.

We have built a unique student-friendly journey, in cooperation with Villiers Park and taking into account the safeguarding and protection of these students. Students are able to design, organise and drive the event, thus building their leadership abilities, confidence and transferable skills. We anticipate it going live at the end of March 2018.

We wish to give a big thanks to Bruno Alla and Alice Oakley for working on this project.


Improved Matching of Companies

We are constantly working to make the lives of our Business Leaders easier by automatically understanding which company they work for based on their Linkedin profile when they sign up with us. Recently we have cleaned up some code and more importantly patched a logic step where parent companies were not considered for our success criteria. Since adding parent companies to the success criteria and fixes, almost 900 new Business Leaders are available for educators to invite into the classroom.

We wish to recognition the swift and handy dev work of Stephanie Crampin and Bruno Alla for implementing this important update.

Social mobility and the 12 opportunity areas

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The Opportunity Areas programme was announced in October 2016, at that stage the initial six areas were identified and a further six areas were identified in January 2017.

The delivery plans for the 12 opportunity areas outline how the government plans to build young people’s knowledge and skills and provide them with the best advice and opportunities.

The selection methodology explains how the government decided which areas would be classified as ‘opportunity areas’.

The selection data spreadsheet presents the data which they originally considered when identifying the areas in greatest need.

The 12 opportunity areas are:

Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential

Opportunity areas are part of the government’s national plan for dealing with social mobility through education. The plan – Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential – is a policy paper which sets out how we will remove obstacles that could stop people from achieving their potential.


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Business models and needs today are dramatically different to just a decade ago

Technology is radically changing the workplace. Many jobs today didn’t exist a decade ago. And that transformation will continue as companies operate and interact with customers in new ways.  Mobile-first websites, customer service chatbots and cloud-based systems based on big data analytics are the norms, not the exception of running a successful business today.

It means the skills modern businesses need are already significantly different to 2008, and that pace of change is speeding up.

Organisations have always relied on the skills of its people to succeed, but the changing workplace means that people with the right skills and experience are increasingly hard to find. This is holding back businesses and holding back our economy at a crucial time.

The vast majority (93%) of scale up businesses in the UK said they would be able to grow faster if they had access to talent with the right skills.

With Brexit likely to limit our access to talent from the EU, it’s never been more important to make sure young people in the UK are being prepared for this new world of work. But our approach to nurturing the next generation of skilled workers is broken.

Getting young people proper experience of work is the missing link. This experience is vital to making sure tomorrow’s workforce is passionate, engaged, and has the right skills to help our economy grow.

For too long, businesses have only offered work experience to connections of their family or friends, in a meaningless week-long period of making tea and photocopies.

Businesses are shooting themselves in the foot. They need a strong local talent pool, but work experience placements are not set-up to develop and hone young people’s skills.

Instead they see work experience placements as a resource drain, rather than an opportunity to develop meaningful work, bring in fresh perspectives, and grow the local talent pool.

Three key things need to change

We need to completely rethink the way businesses and the young interact as they enter the working world.

  1.   Work experience needs to be valuable to businesses, as well as to young people
  2.   We need to get better at connecting businesses with local young people who already have or are developing the skills they need
  3.   We need to make it easier for businesses to deliver quality work experience that will improve young people’s employability and add value to their business

We have a solution… Introducing Workfinder

We’ve created WorkFinder to easily connect business leaders to young local talent and help their businesses grow.

WorkFinder offers a variety of ways for business leaders to access local talent, whether through work placements, internships or workplace visits or presentations. Whatever size or sector, WorkFinder matches young people with local businesses, and in doing so gives back to the local community, in whatever way works best for their business.

Businesses sign-up online, and then young people can use our app to find the work experience opportunities that best suit their needs and skills.

What you can do now

Offering quality work experience isn’t a ‘nice-to-have’ for businesses, it’s fundamental to their success.  It supports the commercial imperative of growth by improving access to new ideas, skills and talent.

So let’s make it a priority: Sign up to WorkFinder today by clicking here. And then tell your friends and fellow businesses leaders to do exactly the same.


Experience Works: Addressing the UK’s Skills Gap

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Despite a frosty early morning start on the 16th January 2018, over 200 business leaders, educators and some impressive young people assembled into Livery Hall in Guildhall, as part of the City of London Corporation’s commitment to building the skills the City needs and connecting the City’s opportunities with London’s diverse talent. The reason for the overwhelming turnout was the greatly anticipated event to mark a way forward for providing meaningful work experience for young people up and down the country.

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman delivered a powerful keynote address for the event – he spoke about the role businesses can play in addressing the UK skills gap. The event also announced the launch of Workfinder, a workplace experience app helping young people to discover career opportunities in their local area.

Speakers include: Pearson CEO John Fallon, Alderman Peter Estlin, Unruly Co-founder Sarah Wood OBE, Founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates Russ Shaw, Teach First Founder and Honorary President Brett Wigdortz OBE and Founder and CEO of Babylon, Ali Parsa.

Speakers addressed the crucial importance of work experience and tell their own stories of welcoming young people to their organisations and giving us an idea of what success looks like and how businesses can inspire the next generation and make valuable connections to tomorrow’s talent.

The irrepressible vibrant young talent, Jack Parson, 23 year old CEO of Yourfeed, delivered a moving discussion and drove the point home eloquently, “Workfinder is more than an app, it’s a movement!”.

A very big thank you goes out to Pearson our co-host alongside The City of London for making the day possible and being committed supporters of our mission.

Here is the Interview with Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn Founder and Sherry Coutu CBE, Chairman Founders4Schools, Workfinder and the Scaleup Institute, hosted by the endlessly entertaining Michael Hayman.

Introducing Workfinder

Photos from the event