New Year Message from our MD
18 Jan 2021

Connecting educators and business volunteers to inspire students in times of the pandemic

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By Michaela Eschbach - Managing Director Founders4School

2020, the year of the pandemic - a pandemic the World had not expected - has had an immense impact on career education, inspiration, and the hopes of young people, particularly when thinking about their future.

The ease with which educators had previously invited business volunteers into their classroom, as well as the time and space of mind needed for educators to do so, had effectively ceased to exist.

Yet, in times of uncertainty, missed exams, and an unclear future, career education involving inspiring role models able to talk about future career paths is more important than ever.

2020 challenged us at Founders4Schools to reconsider how we support the engagement of business volunteers in career learning, whilst supporting educators to find new ways to deliver these invaluable moments for students. It allowed us to be creative and pivot our offer - helping both educators and business volunteers in new ways to achieve our mutual goal to inspire students about the future world of work far beyond the pandemic. To be a reliable partner in times of doubt for all: students, educators, volunteers, corporates, and parents.

Foundations laid in 2020 will accelerate remote career education in 2021

Two core initiatives triggered by the pandemic have enabled us to lay sound foundations to accelerate and scale our engagement with educators and partners in 2021.

  1. We adapted our platform, adding the option for virtual engagement with students, allowing more flexibility for educators and volunteers alike. We introduced the opportunity for educators to connect with volunteers beyond their local community. A particular benefit to educators teaching in remote areas, who previously struggled to get business volunteers to join their career sessions and, therefore, struggled to connect the curriculum with the world of work.
  2. We are proud to have been invited to join BCGDV in creating, launching, and now running Digital Boost: an initiative, supported by DCMS, that offers small businesses and charities mentoring opportunities, workshops, and courses to help them survive the pandemic through digital upskilling. It is also open to schools and educators to help them with their digital challenges. Active in all LEPs across the country, Digital Boost offers a national solution and is working closely with local and national governments.
  3. Roll out of our Maths4Girls programme: inspiring girls to take maths beyond GCSE. It could not have happened at a better time when children struggle more with maths than ever. Bringing volunteers to inspire your students about maths will help you to engage them when they most need it.

Supporting educators to continue to integrate career education whilst teaching remotely - involving business volunteers

To help educators to use digital and remote technologies, we adapted our educator offer - launching our CPD certified Mapper training course, accessible via the Future Learn platform, and introduced regular Founders4Schools training sessions.

Ease of engagement for business volunteers

Volunteering remotely from home or the office, without having to spend time traveling allows volunteers to spend more time to inspire and support students than ever before. Time well spent in having an impact on what really matters: our future generation, our students, our young people.

Opportunities for us all ahead

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Brexit, and other changes, we are confident that 2021 will offer many opportunities for us all to leverage. Working together we can achieve great things. To help young people to be positive about their future. To help educators to deliver invaluable careers education and to support businesses to identify their future talent pipeline.

How can educators benefit

Our platform enables educators to find the right business volunteer within 5 minutes. We offer the option for educators to use their own remote platform or we can provide one if needed. They can deliver their volunteer encounters irrespective of whether the students are in school or taught remotely. Whether they are subject teachers or career leads. All it needs is to start the process and book your first event. Our team is happy to help.

We have great plans to support you by running full-day events in Apprenticeship-, Careers- and Science week as well as on International Mother Language Day. All you need to do is sign up.

Although the impact of Brexit is still not completely clear we do know consequences such as the end of the Erasmus programme will affect how schools conduct language enriching activities, making school exchange programmes more difficult. This in turn will impact the ability of students to broaden their cultural awareness and impact their broader communication skills - vital for the world of work. We are delighted to say that we are about to launch our partnership with World is a Village, which will be able to support you and your students to overcome these challenges. Should you be interested let us know.

We recognise more than ever, the commitment, grit, and devotion of educators to our next generation. We will do everything to continue and to expand our support to educators to achieve their mission

How can we support parents and students?

Young people at the point of leaving school, Further Education, or Higher Education have been particularly affected by the pandemic, now unsure what the next steps might be.

Businesses predominantly operating remotely has meant work experience and in school visits are challenging and in parts impossible. Blurring the lines between work and home, changing the very way the world of work operates.

We are proud to be appointed to support the Scottish Government in delivering their Young Person’s Guarantee and work with partners in England to support young people to take the next step.

  • Do you have young people aged 18-25? Or are you in that age bracket, looking to gain work experience? Then why not contact us and we can help you to find remote work experience.
  • Or do you want to organise a session with a volunteer for a group of young people? Get in touch.
  • Does your child’s school still not deliver careers education? Ask them to get in touch.

In December, we launched our Futures4Students appeal, highlighting the crippling impacts Covid is having on young people and their prospects. We will continue to seek support for our campaign and other activities to help us support the young people who need the most support on their way to career success.

How can we support business partners?

Many businesses struggle, yet others accelerate. We have seen many positive examples of Businesses responding to the challenges with innovative solutions and new ways of doing business. It gives us hope for the future. A good example that excites us is that despite an unprecedented year, UK tech firms have secured more funding for innovative ideas in 2020 than the rest of Europe combined.

Along with investment and growth comes the need for talent. We are the ideal gateway to the next generation, being able to support you to build your future talent pipeline. We are a reliable partner to support you in retaining your staff by offering meaningful volunteering opportunities.

We are grateful for our increasing number of partnerships with companies such as Hitachi ABB, Novartis, and Chubb that are investing in their future workforce and the stability of our economy by engaging their employees to join our volunteer network. It would be great for you to be our next partner. It strengthens our offer to educators planning career inspiration activities for their students. Yet you do not need to be a large corporate to partner with us. If you want to make a difference or want us to help you, all you have to do is get in touch with us.

We are small but mighty and are proud to respond to the needs of our educator and business network to reach and impact as many young people as possible.

As with most of the charity sector, the demand for our services has not halted, yet fundraising is being impacted with increased pressures on the public purse and private funders. Supporting us to help you achieve your goals will allow us to reach even more young people.

As always, we will work hard to inspire and educate the next generation in their future careers. To help bridge the gap between business and education. To work together with partners to offer productive, scaleable career inspiration solutions to educators, businesses, and young people to feed into the building of a strong resilient economy for us all.

I am excited to work with and support you all in 2021

Here’s to a healthy & productive 2021!

Happy New Year!

Michaela Eschbach

Managing Director of Founders4Schools

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