The mission of Founder4Schools is to inspire pupils and prepare them for the rapidly changing world of work; a mission which is in total accord with the aims and hopes that the Scottish Government, educational sector and business sector hold for all of our young people.
In Scotland, we have been on a deliberate and focused journey to engage our young people in enterprise activity since the Determined to Succeed review in 2002. This has remained a core focus of education policy since then, most recently leading to the Developing the Young Workforce Strategy launch in 2014 and the Work Placements Standard publication in 2015.
To quote from the Education Working for all commission report:
"A focus on preparing all young people for employment should form a core element of the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence... local authorities, SDS and employer representative organisations should work together to develop a more comprehensive standard for careers guidance which would reflect the involvement of employers and their role and input."
Founders4Schools launched in Scotland in 2017 and has been growing in popularity with teachers, entrepreneurs and pupils alike. Founder4Schools wants to connect every student to the creators of the jobs of the future in their community. We believe that this will help increase their employability and also eradicate the skills gap in our economy. To do that we've developed a free service that empowers teachers to find and bring local business leaders of successfully growing businesses into their schools to inspire their pupils.
Doing so helps ensure that children are prepared for the jobs and aware of the sectors that will be relevant when they leave education. Whether it's a careers fair attended by successful business leaders, or work discovery opportunities with inspiring role models, Founders4Schools can make a real difference.
Founders4Schools makes it easy and quick for teachers to identify and invite inspirational role models to their schools, feature fast growing companies at careers fairs or arrange for visits to discover exciting work places. Business leaders that are spearheading some of the most successful enterprises in the UK volunteer to visit local schools, speak to pupils about their career journeys and the jobs they are hiring for or invite the pupils to discover their work places.
The impact that we can have together is real:
I think it's good for pupils to hear from real people who are saying the same things that we've been saying in school. As soon as a business leader comes in, they start to take the messages on board, because they're the people who will be employing them in the future. That has a lot of impact.
Some of our young people have parents or aunties or uncles with really exciting careers who sit down and discuss those careers with them. But others come from a background where there's been a history of unemployment and if you're not getting that same positive message, you don't know what options are out there. The more we can immerse pupils in that and give these opportunities the better.
I'd encourage other teachers to go for it and sign up with Founders4Schools – it's painless and takes you a couple of minutes. Industry is crying out to build links with schools, they just don't know how to go about it and schools don't have time to track down links. This does it all for you. You've got nothing to lose!
I felt the speakers were honest. It wasn't fake or a show at all, "let's go speak to the kids". They were genuinely speaking one-to-one – not to a crowd but like they were speaking directly just to you. And they gave really good information. Before now, I had no idea what the business world was like. This opened my eyes a bit to what it's actually like, not just what I thought it was like.
I was looking to set up a careers event and trying to find employers. It is very challenging to get people into the school, so to take the hassle out of that was incredible. I had phoned maybe 150 people and got 3 or 4 responses, so Founders4Schools was a lot easier for me to work with. It was great.
The pupils are now certainly more inquisitive as to what's out there. Quite a lot of them are now considering other options. It's opened up the correct career path for them. They are more inquisitive about what's outside of Kirkintilloch essentially. It's about raising their aspiration. Getting that experience has allowed them to see what's out there in the wider world.
For me, it provided more time back because the amount of time it would have taken me to get those contacts, I was able to put into the activities that we were actually doing. As a teacher, it's a massive gift to get time back. It was a simple process which was supported the whole way through. I'd certainly recommend it – in fact, I already have!
I thought through the aims of the event and back to my own days at school. I don't remember hearing from people who had some kind of history in running businesses and I thought it would be a good thing to do. During the talk, the pupils were listening and taking it all in. I thought their attitude to it was great. They were engaged and enthused and from the calibre of the questions that they asked, they definitely wanted to be there. I think it's a great confidence builder for kids at that age to be in that environment.
There are a fair number of pupils that would aspire to work in the financial services sector and jobs are very competitive. Experience goes a long way in helping you to show your value to a business.
One of the messages that I tried to get across was that the world is bigger than Kirkintilloch, bigger than Glasgow and bigger than Scotland. I have international investment clients who I encourage to expand their horizons, so I wanted to get across that message to the pupils right from the start.
Another key message was to never be afraid of change. I've been able to enjoy a new career in a new sector after years in the hospitality industry. If you don't achieve what you set out to achieve, it's all too easy to be disappointed about your situation. Be flexible. Employers like that. There was a day when there was such a thing as a job for life, but that doesn't exist anymore.