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Innovate UK

How business leaders can help inspire the next generation

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Support

As an educational charity, Founders4Schools are focused on giving young people the tools they need to enter meaningful work after leaving school. So why do we think that this is an issue that needs tackling, and how can business leaders get involved?

Teacher smiling and talking to two children in a classroom situation

Helping young people transition into fulfilling careers

Helping young people transition into fulfilling and productive careers isn’t a new challenge, but it is a challenge that has evolved over time. In the current climate, it means addressing a skills gap which leaves many young people under-prepared for the modern workplace. With new types of work emerging all the time, it can be difficult to teach the technical skills that will be needed for future jobs. At the same time, students are often emerging from school without having developed vital soft skills such as resilience, teamwork and time-management.

Closing skills gaps

And this skills gap can be just as damaging for the businesses sitting on the other side of the interview table. With new positions opening up in fields that didn’t even exist when teachers and parents were young, recruitment has become a struggle.

82 percent of scale-ups report that they could grow their companies faster if the people who applied had the specific skills they needed. We’re clear on the fact that the businesses creating these jobs are often in the best position to educate children and schools about them. This is never truer than with innovative companies already focused on exploring new ideas.

Teacher showing two pupils something on a laptop in a classroom situation

Inspire young people by telling your story

The good news is that there is plenty we can do to help. From as young as 6, children can benefit from meeting with business leaders in a school environment and hearing their stories - of failure as well as success! Current government guidelines suggest that young people should have at least one encounter with an employer each year between 11 and 16, as well as two workplace experiences by the age of 18.

By heading into a local school and sharing your story, you can inspire young people from your area to aim high, whilst also demonstrating that success looks different for everyone. This can also help young people make important decisions about their future: which subjects to study at A-level, for instance, or whether to pursue an apprenticeship or a degree.

We know that the majority of business leaders would love the opportunity to make their contribution. The problem is knowing how to get involved. Founders4Schools was set up to make it easy for teachers to invite role models into schools: by signing up as a business leader, you indicate that you’re happy to receive invitations from schools in your area. You could also receive invitations to take part in activities such as CV workshops or mock interviews - helping to build children’s confidence whilst giving them the skills that they need to succeed.

Smiling woman sitting behind a computer screen

Stepping into the modern workplace

The second part of the puzzle is offering meaningful work experience placements. A recent YouGov survey on work experience, conducted in June, suggests that almost 50% of young people who had placements found the experience did not help them decide on a job to aspire to. This shows that the placements on offer aren’t giving real value: Founders4Schools’ latest service, Workfinder, hopes to change this.

Bringing work experience students into your company is a great opportunity to prepare young people for work in your industry. And there are short term benefits for business, too - work experience students can offer a fresh perspective and approach things in new ways, making it a great opportunity to transfer knowledge between generations.

Making yourself available on the Workfinder app allows young people to apply directly to your organisation. You can then vet their application and arrange the details quickly and efficiently. We can also provide you with resources and templates to help you provide an experience with real impact.

How can I get involved?

It takes just a few minutes to sign up and make yourself available to local schools and young people through Founders4Schools and Workfinder. You will receive an email if and when a teacher invites you, which you’re welcome to accept or decline depending on your schedule. There is no minimum requirement - it's totally driven by you. Find out more on the Founders4Schools and Workfinder sites.

Share your case studies

We are also looking for businesses to share or co-create case studies with us, describing the work experience programmes you offer. Your stories will help other businesses learn what works and what to avoid when accepting work placements.

If you are interested in showcasing your case study, please contact


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