Careers education and COVID: using tech to do some good

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Written by Michaela Eschbach, Managing Director, Founders4Schools

As a mother and a businesswoman I am a passionate advocate for helping young people to reach their potential in life. I have over 6 years of experience in the careers education sector and  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what effects the COVID-19 crisis will have on Founders4Schools, and indeed the longer term employment prospects of young people. There are infinite imponderables in this but the best way out of any situation is forwards so we at Founders4Schools have taken two big decisions that will help to smooth the way for the educators who use our services and the young people who benefit from them. We have always been a digital solution to an analogue problem, and we are using this crisis to maximize the beneficial digitization of our services and to ensure our Tech is doing as much Good as it possibly can.

The first decision was to move online. We are still running our interactions between young people and the business community in webinar format. You can see our calendar of upcoming events here and on our YouTube Channel page you can access recordings of all the completed webinars so far.

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We have also decided to accelerate the launch of another project we’ve been working on for months. Mapper, an online training course that sets out the digital careers tools available for educators to use to help guide their young people on the pathways into the world of work. It’s open for enrollment on FutureLearn.com and learning will commence on 1st June 2020. 

We had originally planned to launch the training course in September 2020, but reflecting on the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, especially in the careers education sector, we felt that it was the right thing to do to make the course available to educators as soon as possible. More traditional approaches to careers education, careers fairs, on site visits etc, are impossible at the current time; but the needs of young people to learn about the world of work have not diminished. Indeed, there is a very strong evidence base to suggest that in this changed world of ours they will need more support and advice than ever before. To give an example from the world of apprenticeships, research released by The Sutton Trust on May 20th makes for fairly grim reading with layers of complexity and uncertainty, though reasons to keep hope alive as well.

Similarly, research released by The Sutton Trust on the 4th May explains that the picture in the university sector is no less confusing with real concerns over access and the eventual job prospects of graduates. 

We believe that Mapper can play a big part in enabling educators in planting the seeds to keep young people focussed on mindful and well informed career choices. The course introduces educators to online, safe to access, tools that will allow them to keep young people engaging with careers education remotely for as long as is necessary and enrich their careers education delivery even when things return to the ‘new normal’.  

Mapper has been produced in collaboration with some amazing partner organisations. Workfinder; Apps for Good; Worldskills UK; Life Skills, created with Barclays; The Skills Builder Partnership; Start; UCL; The Creative Industries Federation and The Centre For Education and Youth have all pitched in with content, advice and helped us to review the course. 

Finola Lang, Global Education Lead at FutureLearn, said: “The workplace has evolved rapidly over the years and the jobs landscape is undergoing seismic changes right now which will have a huge longer term impact. Now more than ever, teachers and educators need access to the best resources so they can keep up with job market developments and expand their knowledge of the digital tools available to help guide the careers advice they’re giving to their students. We are proud to partner with Founders4Schools, who play a leading role in improving the employment chances of young people, to deliver the Mapper course to help teachers effectively prepare their students for the world of work.”

We believe that it’s crucial for educators to have the digital tools they need to navigate this, and we’ve got a Map(per) for them!


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