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.

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