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

Challenge Your Students With A Tenner

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Founders4Schools are proud to be partnering with the Tenner Challenge to connect business leaders with entrepreneurial young people seeking inspiration for their projects. We wish you all the best of luck!

Want to inspire your students with an Enterprise Competition to start the year? – Register Here

As students return to school after a few weeks of hibernation why not encourage them to take part in the Tenner Challenge? It only takes 4 simple steps and online registration is quick and easy.

  1. Here’s a tenner

The Challenge is free to enter and available to every young person across all abilities aged from 11- 19 years. £10 will be pledged directly from the Young Enterprise Tenner Bank to use as start-up capital to get their own student business idea off the ground. Everyone has 4 weeks to make as much profit as possible.

  1. Getting ready

The Challenge is fun and engaging, from starting with an idea to creating a product or service, designing a company logo and managing a budget to finally trading directly with the public. Following the 4 week plan provides practical opportunities to broaden the enterprise and careers curriculum and allows young people to discover for themselves what it means to be enterprising.

  1. Keep it going

Resources and videos are easy to access online giving top tips on how to get started, case studies and guidance to plan and run the challenge successfully. There are weekly competitions and a national Tenner Challenge competition to enter.   A great way to keep everyone on track from start to finish. Tenner is an original way of creating a fun learning activity by encouraging the fearless spirit of the young entrepreneur within a safe supported learning environment.

  1. Payback and keep the profit

At the end of the Challenge after £10 pledges are repaid back to the Tenner Bank with a £1 legacy contribution, everyone can decide how to spend or donate part or all of their profits to a charity or local project of their choice. Taking part can offer a platform for young people to drive social change in recognising an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the wider community.

Active learning

Using the Challenge as part of your programme of enterprise education and career guidance can have an impact on a variety of outcomes for young people. From greater self-awareness, giving an insight into how businesses are structured to demonstrating the different roles and career opportunities.

Tenner can support programmes of study requirements for a broad range of subjects including English and mathematics beyond class room learning and form a useful part of a coherent and progressive programme of enterprise education, giving opportunities to reflect and evaluate.

Don’t miss out – sign up today. Registration closes on 21st February!


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F4S Response to the Industrial Strategy White Paper

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Earlier this year, with your help, Founders4Schools submitted a detailed response to the Government Green Paper Building our Industrial Strategy. Yesterday (27 November 2017) the Industrial Strategy White Paper was published, and I am delighted that many of the areas we highlighted as key components of a purposeful growth plan have been picked up and investment promised.

Founders4Schools welcomes the Industrial Strategy, signalling a Fourth Industrial Revolution ‘characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological worlds.’


  • The focus on skills, productivity and R&D, which includes the harnessing of AI and big data;
  • The commitment to partnerships across business and government that scale up the technical skills we need for job creation – for this generation, and the next;
  • The announcement of significant investments over the next few years. We would argue that the release of funds should come sooner rather than later to enable technology to start to deliver on the promise.

In recent weeks the Prime Minister and Chancellor have stressed their commitment to supporting the UK’s world-class tech sector.  I am particularly encouraged by the focus in the Industrial Strategy on helping young people to do the newly-skilled jobs of the future; creating the conditions for young people to grow successful businesses, and for the opportunity for partnerships between government and industry that will harness AI and big data to solve our biggest challenges.

Our vision at Founders4Schools is singularly focused on the career prospects of our young people. We want to enable a generation of entrepreneurial thinkers with relevant skills who can raise productivity, at a time when our nation faces into the biggest socio-economic re-think for generations. All new jobs are coming from companies less than four years old and this is set to continue. Our insight is that better results come from connecting young people with business leaders in the local community.

We particularly welcome the Grand Challenge of putting the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and the data revolution, and look forward to engaging with the Business Champions and external advisors who will be appointed in early 2018 to lead this thinking. We welcome the profile that AI and machine learning has achieved and the recognition of their role in transforming business models across sectors by identifying better ways to do complex tasks.

The Industrial Strategy has much good news for the digital sector. We welcome the additional £725m funding available through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to maximise the value of innovative ideas being developed, and the opportunity to launch an expression of interest in 2018. Also, the additional £44m of grant funding from Innovate UK, and the £10m Regulators’ Pioneer Fund to support the development of innovative approaches to emerging technologies. The drive to foster, attract and retain the best and brightest research talent through Turing Fellowships, PhDs and Master level qualifications is good news, as is the announcement for an industry-led AI Council that can take a leadership role across sectors, working in partnership with the new Gov-Tech Catalyst and would welcome the expansion of their remit to include education.

There are enormous opportunities for these initiatives in the education space. At Founders4Schools we have integrated information sources and AI technologies successfully to make recommendations to educators, so they can arrange student-employer encounters based on their preferred criteria in just minutes.

In our response to the Green Paper we called for the release of LEO, HMRC and NPD datasets to allow us to scale quickly and build a picture of the future labour market and enable schools to move more quickly through Gatsby benchmarks for career guidance.  We look forward to sharing learnings and support the setting of standards to ensure the secure, trusted use of data.

We note that 40% of employers reported a lack of STEM graduates: – According to the Scale-Up Institute, 90% of scaleup businesses are concerned about a lack of skills post-Brexit. We know that when business leaders, particularly women, take part in Student-Employer interactions – of which we have now facilitated over 250,000 – likelihood of them taking up STEM subjects increases threefold and 86% are less likely to become NEET.

We are delighted the Government has recognised the vital importance of Skills within the Industrial Strategy. We welcome the investment of an additional £406 million in maths, digital and technical skills (with an extra £40m to train maths teachers) including £84 million over the next five years to upskill 8,000 computer science teachers by the end of this Parliament. We also welcome the new National Centre for Computing Education, and the recognition that the UK’s world-class creative industries are growing at twice the rate of the economy and are heavily reliant on STEM skills.

As mentioned above, we believe we can help the Government to ‘deepen the understanding of the gender disparity in STEM subject choices at ages 16 to 19’, if data regarding STEM subjects is released, by institution and subject. Also interesting are plans to explore (building on the work of the Skills Advisory Panels and local Digital Skills Partnerships in England) how data analytics can be used to improve our understanding of employer demand for skills.

At Founders4Schools, we can combine many of these objectives. By sharing National Pupil’s Database (NPD) data via an API, we can unlock information about local jobs that specifically require STEM skills and help teachers to provide critical feedback to share with everyone about what works.

As we said in our initial response, the introduction of new T Levels from 2020 is a great step forward, with the commitment of putting technical education on the same footing as our academic system. We welcome the additional £20m investment announced in the Budget Statement last week. T Levels will give young people more options, with structured programmes including work experience which will help them take advantage of new prospects, particularly in deprived areas. Further, the commitment to addressing employer and student needs and expectations through the creation of a new regulator, the Office for Students (OfS) is a step forward.

We also recognise the value created by the investments in the new Institute of Coding, the Ada, National College for Digital Skills and new digital platforms to expand the reach of STEM Ambassador and CREST Awards programmes.

But many teachers, as well as their students, need to upgrade their digital skills, so F4S welcomes the establishment of a National Retraining Scheme to help people re-skill and up-skill as the economy changes. Also, the investment of £30m to test the use of AI and innovative education technology (EdTEch) in online digital skills courses.

We agree that ‘our problem is not unemployment caused by technology, it is low earning power caused by the, among other reasons, a failure to use technology’. Our focus is on helping teachers to become more digital and therefore help their students become more productive.

EdTech offers the ideal solution for this and we have proposed a new coalition for careers education in schools by creating a digital toolkit and guidance that will enable up to 500,000 educators across the UK working in primary education, to feel more confident about understanding and preparing their students for the world of work.

We welcome the Government’s significant investment into R&D that has commercial application and so has a bearing on productivity. Our leadership in the 2017 European Innovation Scorecard is impressive.  We would argue that significant investment is taking place by the forward-thinking business leaders to who come to speak on our behalf in schools. But these growing businesses need support to grow.

At Founders 4 Schools, we agree with the need to ensure that the national system works across the country, making a real difference in areas of most need. We focus our services in the Government’s Opportunity Areas, where we aim to address regional disparities and break down barriers that widen socio-economic divides that increase young people in NEET categories and reduce their chances for further education. We work closely with devolved government, LEP’s and the Careers and Enterprise Company, as well with business leaders in these areas.

We therefore welcome the investment of £72m in the Opportunity Areas programme and £42m to pilot a Teacher Development Premium, allowing for high quality professional development for teachers in areas that have fallen behind. We also look forward to seeing the Local Industrial Strategies emerge, and can work with Government to identify how the greater access to technical education in these areas can help raise employability skills.

Our approach is one of partnership – between educators, businesses, local government, devolved administrations – to achieve goals. We believe this is the only way to achieve the kind of scale we need to up-skill young people and prepare them for the world of work. The launch of Workfinder – our mobile app to connect 16-18 year-olds with work experience in their local area is just one example, and we welcome the Government’s focus on helping to increase the number of students who undertake work experience to develop their professional skills and ways of accrediting work experience in degrees.

There is an urgent need to accelerate the transformation, or we will leave a generation behind while we figure out what to do next. Many of us are already making substantive progress. The Industrial Strategy provides an excellent framework for progress, if the Government directs and releases finances for us NOW to move ahead and deliver. We want to continue to be part of that change that improves living standards and economic growth across the country

Sixteen-year-old girl who inspired Workfinder app opens doors for thousands of young women in Newcastle

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  • New ‘Trip Advisor’ style App connects students to work experience in less than 5 minutes;
  • Newcastle to benefit from up to 5,000 work experience scholarships for 16-18 year-old women to work in digital companies and charities;
  • Funded by £200k investment from social tech investor, Nominet Trust;
  • Preparing girls for jobs of the future the ‘challenge of a generation’.


NEWCASTLE, UK – 29 November 2017: Gov-tech education charity Founders4Schools (F4S), whose mission is to connect inspiring business leaders with schools, has today announced the creation of a scholarship fund to benefit thousands of young women across Newcastle with work experience opportunities. These roles are on offer to girls aged 16 to 18, as the charity puts powerful tools into the hands of girls looking for work experience in the city’s thriving digital sector.

The placements will be available through F4S’ ground-breaking mobile-phone app Workfinder, which was inspired by sixteen-year-old Maitri Panchal while she was on work experience with the charity herself. Workfinder enables young people to filter preferences, share recommendations and connect with great companies in as little as five minutes.

The opportunities are offered in fast-growing digital and tech Newcastle businesses, including NRG, printed.com and hedgehog lab. They help young people unlock their potential and kick- start their careers using STEM skills. The Newcastle scholarships for girls have been made possible through funding from social tech investors Nominet Trust, amongst others.

Speaking at a Founders4Schools event: Future Forward: Connecting Young People to the Future World of Work at the Boiler Shop, Newcastle today, Sherry Coutu, CBE, Chair of Founders4Schools and The ScaleUp Institute, said: “The current work experience model is broken. According to the ScaleUp Institute, 90% of UK scaleup businesses are concerned about a lack of skills post-Brexit but existing structures do not allow UK plc. to foster home- grown skills.”

Work Experience helps young people grow their skills and businesses benefit from much needed talent, but the reliance on informal networks means that many pupils in deprived areas secured no work experience at all last year. During November, UK digital businesses have come together to pledge to offer, via Workfinder, week-long work-experience placements that are needed by the 1.8 million 16-18 year-old students in UK schools.
Sherry Coutu continued: “93% of teachers say that work experience boosts student attainment and aspirations. Great companies are learning environments and need talent to grow; young people need help to find their passion in life. It’s the challenge of a generation, and I hope Workfinder will give them the power to discover their route to a meaningful career.”
Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust added: “Nominet Trust’s purpose is to transform lives with tech – but that’s only possible if we give the next generation, regardless of their background and circumstance, the opportunity to develop digital skills. We’re excited about continuing our partnership with Founders4Schools by funding 5,000 placements available through Workfinder in major UK cities, because of the opportunity it gives to young women to develop careers in STEM subjects, boosting their contribution to the UK’s growing digital economy.”

Sam Mcloughlin, Business Engagement Manager, Studio West, said: “We guarantee our students aged 16 and over two days a week of work experience with companies in the Newcastle area. I have seen countless times the dramatic impact this has on young people. When they return, students tell us they are inspired and have confidence to pursue a career they may not have known existed before. The opportunities Founders4Schools is opening up are vital and Workfinder makes it easier than ever before to help students connect their learning to the world of work.”
Simone Roche, Founder, Northern Power Women, said “I welcome this brilliant initiative to give young women in Newcastle the opportunity to grow their skills. For the whole region it’s vital that we grow our talent base and foster gender equality. I urge others to also support the work Founders4Schools are doing.”

Lauren Garey, Chair of Founders4Schools’ Diversity Advisory Committee, added: “It’s critical that businesses work with young talent to address the gender imbalance within the technology sector. One of our partners, Martha Lane Fox at Dot Everyone, recently stated that the technology sector accounts for 67% of women-led businesses in the UK, but women currently occupy only 17% of technology jobs and 4% of software engineering jobs. Providing work experience and first-hand experience to STEM careers will help to ensure that our future leaders, investors and entrepreneurs come from the widest pool of diverse talent.

Therese Liddle, CEO, NRG, said: “As a leading recruitment agency in the North East, NRG are delighted to support Founders4Schools. We have strong partnerships with companies across all sectors and know that, while many are already supporting young people, many more would appreciate the opportunity to do so. Fostering the skills and talents of the upcoming generation is critical to our wider economic and social success and we believe that Workfinder is a brilliant platform to create that vital link between education, business and young people.”

Catherine Boland, HR Manager, printed.com, said: “Offering work experience produces great benefits to the business as well as students and I would encourage other companies to do it. We have developed a programme that is meaningful and in the process, we reflect on our own organisation and the skills we look for in future talent. Plus, employee engagement is boosted as teams enjoy being involved and value supporting the local community.”

Workfinder can be downloaded by students to connect to these and other work experience opportunities free of charge from the app store.

Teachers can find out about Workfinder here: http://bit.ly/2iXg6Ks. Parents can find out about Workfinder here: https://www.workfinder.com/

Businesses willing to host work experience at their companies can sign up here: https://www.workfinder.com/employer/pledge

State of the Nation 2017: Careers and Enterprise Provision in England’s Schools

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By Sherry Coutu, CBE

Times have never been more challenging for educators, who have been tasked to transition the academic assessment of young people while keeping an eye on their prospects beyond school, at this critical point in the UK’s history. It would be easy for adequate careers provision to fall down the gap, but in truth hundreds of schools across England and Scotland are making significant efforts to improve careers and enterprise provision.

The recent report from the Careers and Enterprise Company:  State of the Nation 2017: Careers and Enterprise Provision in England’s Schools, is a welcome contribution to the debate about how we equip our young people for the world of work. The CEC have built on the 2014 research published by Sir John Holman in Good Career Guidance (2014) and allowed us to see schools’ progress against the standards set by Gatsby Benchmarks since then.

At Founders4Schools, we understand the challenge, having worked with more than 500 teachers, schools and businesses and brokered requests for over 250,000 student-employer encounters for 100,000 students to date.

Our mission is to ensure every young person gets encounters with employers each year, while they are between the ages of 8 and 16, and 140 hours of work experience while they are between the ages of 16 and 24.

Our services, which take just minutes to set up, include a wide range of employer engagement activities such as careers talks, careers fairs, work shadowing days, employability programmes and work experience. We work with partners including Department for Education, Careers and Enterprise Company, LEPs and enterprises such as LinkedIn and Duedil to help schools meet requirements quickly and easily.

No other provider makes it as easy for educators to subscribe to twenty-three diverse types of student-employer encounter and our personalised guidance builds upon research commissioned by the Royal Society, Education Endowment Foundation as well as the CEC.

So, why is it so important to connect young people with business leaders? 100% of net new jobs in the economy come from companies less than 4 years old….just the scaleups that our services are set up to reach. Bringing these founders into schools and encouraging them to offer work placements locally, makes perfect sense.

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 subjects that will give them critical science, engineering and technology skills. This could help close the gap in skills shortages that the Open University reports are costing UK businesses £2bn a year, and re-assure the 40% of businesses who are concerned about a lack of skills post-Brexit (IoD).

I’m a strong believer in the standardisation that the Gatsby Benchmarks bring to delivering achievable standards of schools’ careers and enterprise provision, and the consistency with which they are used provides an excellent foundation for planning and measuring performance. In fact, we have mapped F4S services to Gatsby benchmarks to help schools edge closer to fully reach more benchmarks as part of a planned programme of activity.

For example, we provide personalised guidance based on the latest research in careers and enterprise (personal guidance benchmark), have a mission to get every pupil in the UK to four annual employer-encounters (encounters with employers & employees) and our advanced filtering system allows educators to choose speakers best suited to inspire their pupils (addressing the needs of each pupil).

The CEC report is encouraging in showing that, of those schools that completed the survey, more are achieving more benchmarks compared to 2014. The excellent Compass tracking tool that CEC employs also found that there is no statistically significant relationship between the characteristics of the school or the labour market in which it is situated, and the number of Benchmarks achieved. This is great as it demonstrates the true universality of Gatsby Benchmarks in enabling a level playing field between schools in challenging circumstances and more advantaged schools.

But my big concern is that we are not moving fast enough and so will let down a generation of young people, as well as the growing base of potential employers who need a new skills base to emerge, at this crucial time. Work we have done in Stirling this year has demonstrated a significant uplift to nearly 800 Student-Employer Encounters (SEE’s) per 1,000 students (surpassing every local authority in the UK) due to the collaboration and leadership provided by the local council and by the provision of a workshop for headteachers which got them directly involved.

Only by working at the most senior levels within schools did we unlock resistance by helping them understand how with just a little investment of time we can create great outcomes for young people and significantly improve Ofsted results around effective careers provision at the same time.

cumulative SEE's per 1000 Students

It is clear from the CEC Report that most schools are not reporting in Compass. Progress is being made, but it is disappointing that even those who are reporting show that over 20% of schools are not achieving any Benchmarks at all.

At F4S we are working with the CEC to help with:

    • Guides for head teachers to demonstrate what works and offer local insight reports;
    • An Insight report based on the Gatsby Benchmarks that can celebrate each school as it ‘moves up a level’, and help guide those who need help to progress;


  • Ways to enable us to feed results from schools that work with us directly into Compass and so make reporting easier.

F4S can embed employer feedback of encounters in our Teacher Dashboard. We provide clear guidance on which encounter types to book and when, using algorithms to recommend the most impactful encounter types in the local jobs market to enhance the combination of encounters that young people under their care receive. We want to scale this to enable educators to achieve more Gatsby Benchmarks, and be able to track students’ experience in the process.

So, how can schools embed a successful careers strategy? The Careers and Enterprise Company report highlights success factors from schools that do it brilliantly:

    • A careers programme must be fully embedded within the school;
    • Educators need to draw on a wide range of employer engagement activities, including careers talks, careers fairs, work shadowing days, employability programmes, work experience;
    • Access to local careers information is critical. F4S makes real-time local market information easily available to help students understand where their passions lie and connect them with the most relevant local employers;


  • Meeting with universities, colleges and apprenticeship providers is helpful. This should extend to new Institutes of Technology;


    • Personal guidance from a dedicated head of careers. Working with a committed ambassador within the local authority has proved very powerful for getting things moving, and maintaining momentum;
    • The work of the Enterprise Advisor Network is vital in connecting valuable services to schools;


  • The use of tools, such as Kudos, can connect careers education through a range of subjects and help all staff to become more involved in the careers programme, gaining CPD points along the way;


  • The opportunity to serve up work experience placements for older students is crucial. We developed Workfinder, our work experience app, as a service to that allows young people to not only rate work experience but to discover local opportunities, right there in their pockets.

We can help support schools in all these ways, and so build your schools’ success in relation to the Gatsby Benchmarks.

Sherry Coutu, CBE