Inspiring the Future is a free service that matches state schools with people from all sectors and professions who want to volunteer their time to talk about their education or careers.
This project is being led by The Education and Employers Taskforce, who have worked with experts from Deloitte to build http://www.inspiringthefuture.org/. The website connects volunteers with local schools through a quick, easy online process.
The process starts with careers talks, working through gateway organisations and large national employers to ask their staff to visit a school for an hour annually to talk about their jobs and education routes. In this way there is a level playing field, nudging volunteers towards the schools facing the greatest challenges.
Next, they ensure the full range of employers is represented, especially those with greatest demand for young employees, and work with universities to bring in students. Finally, they expand the range of activities (eg, mentoring, work experience or being a governor) supported where necessary, by reputable intermediaries.
This initiative has been developed and endorsed by over 50 partner organisations including all main national organisations representing employers, headteachers, classroom teachers and careers professionals.
As of February 2014, more than 2,500 individual state schools (representing the great majority of secondary schools in the country) have registered on Inspiring the Future.
Since its launch, some 12,000 volunteers have signed up to volunteer in schools through Inspiring the Future from a very wide range of workplaces with each individual, on average, being willing to volunteer with schools in two different local authority areas. Collectively, they have been contacted nearly 20,000 times by teachers.
The first annual user survey (for school year 2012/13) showed that 100,000 young people had taken part in events with Inspiring the Future volunteers and that 84% of teachers and 93% of volunteers would recommend it to a colleague.
Through 2014, Inspiring the Future will expand to include primary schools on a systematic basis and run campaigns with female role models (Inspiring Women) and with specialist volunteers well placed to advise young people about apprenticeships and use of modern foreign languages in the workplace.
Award and follow-on funding
In April 2012, the Education and Employers Taskforce was awarded £50,000 to work with gateway organisations and employers (to recruit large national employers to build initial critical mass), followed by small and medium-sized businesses.
Inspiring the Future was later awarded an additional £150,000 for further business and technology development.