Using technology to revolutionise young people’s understanding of the world of work

Technology has revolutionised how we connect, how we buy and sell products, arrange our travel, share ideas and meet new people. So why not use it to revolutionise the how children get insights and inspiration about the world of work and their future lives?

Technology now for the first time, through Inspiring the Future, enables us to do this. By giving  all children, wherever they live, whatever school they attend and whatever job their parents do (or don’t do) the opportunity to meet people from different social and ethnic backgrounds doing a huge range of interesting jobs. Through technology, we are revolutionising the way young people interact with the world of work – meaning that it is no longer just about who you know, who your parents know or the alumni that went to your school.

One of the challenges historically, was how do we match thousands of schools and colleges nationwide with tens of thousands of volunteers across the country? How do we make it easy and free for teachers to find and communicate with inspirational volunteers on a huge scale?

In 2013, the charity, Education and Employers launched Inspiring the Future with the aim of giving young people the inspiration, motivation, knowledge, skills and opportunities they need to help them achieve their potential, by ensuring that every school and college has an effective partnership with employers.

Salesforce has played a crucial role in making this free national network a reality. It enabled a radical innovation in ways in which schools and colleges could connect with local employers. The goal was to find a way of harnessing technological innovation to identify huge numbers of prospective volunteers, nationally and make them available to schools effectively, efficiently and equitably.

In partnership with Deloitte, whose Salesforce expertise was generously offered pro-bono and using Ordnance Survey’s unique mapping capability, Education and Employers built a bespoke database, which allows volunteers to register a career profile and choose their volunteering areas, and enabled teachers to search for relevant volunteers in their school or college Local Authority and send them a message to begin a conversation. All this has been made possible by the kind support of our leading corporate partner Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Using teacher and volunteer feedback to improve the user experience

This self-service ‘match-making’ site for teachers facilitated school-employer engagement.  It was expanded and improved in line with usage, feedback, additional initiatives and internal review of users’ experiences. For example, teachers wanted to contact multiple volunteers in batches rather than individually, so that was introduced, and traffic rocketed.

In 2017 we undertook a major upgrade by moving to Salesforce Communities. This allowed us to give users a more visual, localised search and mapping powered by Ordnance Survey, gave volunteers the ability to approach schools about opportunities and better cater to our ever-growing group of recruiting governors.

By harnessing technology, we have made it make it easy and quick for schools to connect with local employers.

Today, over 45,000 volunteers have registered their interest to volunteer in schools and colleges – from app designers to zoologists, from all levels – apprentices to CEO’s. Over 80% of state secondary schools and 3, 500 primary schools are using the service and over 1.5 million interactions have taken place between volunteers and young people to date.

All this activity is still co-ordinated by a small team. Every member of the Education and Employers’ team uses the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) every day to log queries from schools or new contacts, engage with employers, and generate reports.

Says Katy Langham, Director of Operations at Education and Employers:

“For me, it’s the backbone of how our organisation operates, and how we can reach as many young people as we do. Being able to build automated workflows to send relevant information to our users at the appropriate time, and raise cases and actions for different staff and track these is invaluable.”

And as Katy said in a recent article for Salesforce  about the further development of the technology to include three communities built on Community Cloud:

“We can now support teachers, recruit new governors for schools and colleges, and connect with our volunteers more easily – it’s a real game-changer.”

“More than 50,000 users are able to take advantage of the communities, which are integrated with Education and Employers’ website. The volunteer and teacher communities feature a unique mapping capability supported by Ordnance Survey that brings together the right people in the right location. Each volunteer has a profile showing their credentials and can be invited to do a classroom talk, or attend an event,”

“In the past, matching volunteers to opportunities was complex, but the Salesforce community looks great and is easy to use.”

Growing the school governor community

Since 2016, the technology has also being used to help schools connect with people interested in being school governors. There are already more than 250,000 people serving as governors in the UK, but still thousands of vacancies and schools in need of support. The matchmaking community built on Community Cloud is called Inspiring Governance and is fully supported and funded by the Department of Education.

The ability to report on the communities’ success is hugely important to securing future funding from the government and private donors. It can also help to quickly identify gaps that the organisation needs to address, and as data can be reports for stakeholders and fundraisers in a much faster, accurate and secure way.

Nowadays children don’t have to rely on who they know to have successful futures – technology has helped us to level the playing field for all young people.

More background on why Inspiring the Future was set up can be read here.