Technology entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den star Piers Linney, the co-founder and Co-CEO of cloud service provider Outsourcery, has launched a pilot for workinsight.org, a not-for-profit venture to provide a digital platform that aims to massively scale up access to work experience.
The pilot, which will be run in association with two London schools and one college, already includes Microsoft UK as a business participant and has gathered support from Esther McVey, MP and Minister of State for Employment. Piers is currently looking for SMEs and enterprises across the UK to get involved.
workinsight.org is developing an automated, digital platform to connect 14-19-year-old students, via their school or college, with employers of all sizes providing short yet informative work place ‘insights’. Crucially, the system will create a level playing field, removing the potential bias of details such as race, religion, gender and background.
Those aged 16-24 years not in employment, education or training (NEET) may also be able to take part in a pilot through plans to partner with Job Centre Plus.
Minister for Employment Esther McVey said: “Work experience is vital in helping young people to get their foot in the door and build a career. The internet has changed the way we look for jobs and projects such as workinsight.org can make this a more exciting, open and effective process.
‘The growth of the digital world has allowed for a number of new opportunities to be created in a way that is more accessible for everyone. With youth unemployment falling now for ten months in a row, it’s really important that young people from all backgrounds get to share in the economic recovery.
‘I know from my own experience how valuable it is to have tried your hand at a range of jobs and this innovative project will make it easier for young people to get the skills and experience that future employers want.”
The scheme was inspired by Piers’ own experience of trying to break into the City and having to make education and career choices without fully understanding all of the options open to him.
Piers said: “For the first time, workinsight.org will remove the traditional selection processes that – consciously or not – often result in barriers to entry for young people. Access to work place experience is influenced by socio-economic background, historic academic record, race, gender, disability, sexuality, religion or even just questionable fashion sense or poor interview skills. By removing these criteria, every young person will be on a completely level playing field when it comes to accessing the world of work.
“By having the opportunity to do multiple work placements young people will make more well-informed decisions about their choice of qualifications, internships, employment, careers, training, education or apprenticeships. These opportunities should not just be available to those with the right support, school or social networks, but to everyone. Social mobility has stagnated and talent is not being allowed to find its root and blossom.”
workinsight.org will provide access to multiple placements with a secure, private portal. All participants will have access to real-time feedback and data via dashboards, and security is provided by a closed-loop whereby individual participants are always known to a school or college or their Job Centre Plus.