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How partnerships can support transitions to work for young people

There are currently around 788,000 young people not in education, employment or training in the UK.

During 2018, Nesta worked with the Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to run the Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP) Partnership Accelerator programme, which supported seven social innovators in this space: Workfinder, ToolShed, Career Alchemy, Exceptional Individuals, MyKindaFuture, UK Youth and Applied.

The results from this six-month programme were highly promising; the organisations between them generated an increased revenue of more than £800,000 and supported tens of thousands more young people on their career journeys.

They did this by being partnered with some of the UK’s largest and most influential businesses, including Unilever, Accenture, Nationwide, BT and others. We have written about the results previously here, but wanted to find out more about what these partnerships have changed for the social innovators.

What we have found out

The partnerships developed have helped innovators to:

  • Increase the reach and impact of their services
  • Test new ideas and approaches, and learn what works
  • Build relationships that have led to further collaboration and innovation
  • Launch new ventures and offerings
  • Raise their ambitions for their business, themselves, their teams and the people they are working to serve.

Below we look at some examples of how the partnerships changed the work that our innovators do.

Increasing the reach and impact of services

Founders4Schools aims to solve two key problems: improving access to the type of relevant work experience that helps young people find inspiring jobs, and equipping young people with the skills businesses really need (such as interpersonal skills) that formal education does not always provide.

Founder Sherry Coutu CBE, says: “The UK has a skills shortage that is holding back productivity... We want every young person in the UK to have 100 hours of work experience that they rate as meaningful, because we know it makes a difference to their lives and grows the talent pool that is the lifeblood of startups and scaleups.”

Its Workfinder platform enables young people aged 16 to 24 to search and apply for work experience placements in growing businesses in their local area, aiming to open up access to inspiring opportunities to all young people, regardless of background.

Partnerships have helped to significantly expand Workfinder’s reach. “We formed a number of very powerful partnerships as a direct result of the IEP programme, which have enabled us to raise the bar on the delivery of meaningful work experience,” says Sherry.

We want every young person in the UK to have 100 hours of work experience that they rate as meaningful, because we know it makes a difference to their lives and grows the talent pool that is the lifeblood of startups and scaleups.

Sherry Coutu CBE, founder of Founders4Schools

For example, the organisation integrated Barclays LifeSkills resources into the Workfinder journey to provide useful tips in the lead up to work experience placements. Through CIPD, they invited 6,000 HR professionals in Scotland onto the platform – enabling them to integrate into a network of hyper-local collaborations, potentially impacting up to 100,000 young people. And with financial giant Grant Thornton, they are leading a community pilot in Leeds with Workfinder, which aims to create a vibrant economy to open up hundreds of work experience opportunities over the next two years.

MyKindaFuture's Connectr app supports disadvantaged young people into work via a mobile platform that provides employer digital mentoring and a peer-to-peer forum. Through the IEP, MyKindaFuture worked with Marks and Spencer to support the transition of 3,000 young people from work experience into full-time employment. The organisation also worked with BT to co-develop a programme to support young people into work.

Testing new ideas and approaches

Career Alchemy helps young people realise their potential by finding more purposeful, inspiring and future-proof careers, as well as helping parents feel better equipped to advise their children on how to thrive in the rapidly changing world of work. Founder Carolyn Parry believes one of the biggest challenges we face as a society today is the disengagement and loss of people’s potential (particularly young people) due to individuals lacking a clear sense of belonging, purpose and direction in their lives.

“The challenge for young people is not only to be prepared for the new world of work but crucially for jobs that haven’t been invented yet. They need the tools and ability to find their career paths and be able to re-invent themselves with confidence and clarity through the course of their working lives.”

The IEP has not only helped us to reach thousands more young people, parents and carers with courses and information (nearly 93,000 in the last 12 months) but also raised our own ambitions for Career Alchemy.

Carolyn Parry, founder of Career Alchemy

Career Alchemy’s INSPiRED Teenager framework aims to address these challenges, by offering tools and resources to help young people find an inspiring and purposeful career direction, based on the problems they want to solve in the world, as well as supporting their parents to offer better career guidance.

Through the IEP, partnerships with EY and Lambeth Council helped to validate, strengthen and road-test their INSPiRED Teenager framework (traditionally delivered one-to-one or as an online video training) in a live setting.

Carolyn says: “Traditionally our work focused on working with adults. Thanks to our involvement with the IEP, we have been able to test parts of the newly written live programme through the work we did with EY as part of their Parentaship programme. This meant delivering roadshows around the country to parents and their teens. Contact with another IEP participant led to us working with Lambeth Council, where we were also able to test our content with a live group.”

Career Alchemy also worked with Unilever to deliver two live workshops, as part of its research to determine whether the content was more effective when delivered live in-person or as a self-serve online course.

Applied is a tech platform that uses behavioural and data science to make hiring smarter, faster and fairer. The organisation reported that it had faced challenges to scale due to a number of technical integration issues with large employers. The grant and non-financial support received through the IEP focused on solving that problem, and Applied can now reach thousands of candidates. This work with Virgin Money, New Philanthropy Capital, Royal Academy of Engineering and others saved approximately £30,000 in development costs and generated over £160,000 in new revenue.

Building relationships that led to further collaboration

The partnerships led to introductions and even more, new partners. Founders4Schools' Sherry Coutu CBE says: “Perhaps our most exciting partnership, in terms of impact on fragile lives, is with Wayra. Wayra is Telefonica’s accelerator for digital startups, so O2, Wayra and Workfinder are working together to help those furthest from the job market transition into the world of work.”

Partnering with a significant number of companies and schools and academies in London, they are introducing young people to entrepreneur insight sessions, via O2’s Go Think Big; promoting work experience opportunities to young people via the Wayra network using the Workfinder platform, and celebrating the exceptional young people and their teachers who get involved.

We formed a number of very powerful partnerships as a direct result of the IEP programme, which have enabled us to raise the bar on the delivery of meaningful work experience.

Sherry Coutu CBE, founder of Founders4Schools

Launching new ventures and offerings

ToolShed helps young people start a career in construction through its intensive training programmes, which cover both practical and interpersonal skills. Partnerships and funding secured from connections made through the IEP helped the organisation launch a new venture, a house-building arm that provides work opportunities for the graduates who complete its training courses.

Co-founder David Lett believes one of the biggest challenges facing young people today is the availability (or lack thereof) of meaningful work.

“[One of our key partnerships] was with UnLtd, who we secured a growth loan through. The process we followed to get the loan was very useful and helped us strengthen our business plan. Another key partner was Barclays Foundation, which offered to support our ambitions through a grant that was tied to outcomes that both organisations wanted to achieve.”

Exceptional Individuals aims to inspire dyslexic people not in employment, education or training (NEET) by celebrating their strengths and giving employers solutions to access 250,000 NEET neurodiverse job-seekers. Partnerships forged through the IEP helped the organisation to pilot, and then launch, the Dyslexia Academy – the first of its kind in the UK. The organisation now has the capacity to deliver support to 1,000 new beneficiaries in the neurodiverse community, equipping job-seekers with the skills, tools and resources they need to find meaningful work.

Raising ambitions

The IEP not only supported innovators to scale their organisations and impact through the different areas outlined above; taking part in the programme also encouraged them to aim higher, and develop the right mindset for growth.

Carolyn Parry, founder of Career Alchemy, says: “The IEP has not only helped us to reach thousands more young people, parents and carers with courses and information (nearly 93,000 in the last 12 months) but also raised our own ambitions for Career Alchemy. We are now looking at further amplifying the impact of Career Alchemy through digital approaches and creating a ‘train the trainer’ programme for career coaches and careers leaders.”

Author

Kate Sutton

Kate Sutton

Kate Sutton

Head of Corporate Social Innovation

Kate is responsible for managing Nesta's Corporate Social Innovation and Inclusive Growth work

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