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In practice

Inspiring the Future


Inspiring the Future is an innovative match-making service which connects schools directly with employers and volunteers from the world of work. It uses cutting edge technology that has been refined over 10 years to make it very quick and easy for teachers to connect with a diverse range of people from apprentices to CEOs across all sectors of employment. The use of technology and the design of the programme enable high volume employer engagement across a wide range of career guidance areas at very low cost. In the United Kingdom, where the service first launched, over 85% of schools and colleges, 23 000 teachers and career leaders have registered together with 80 000 volunteers and over 3 million interactions between young people and the world of work have taken place to date. Schools use Inspiring the Future to find volunteers for a wide range of career development activities, including job fairs, career talks, job shadowing, mentoring, work related learning and the securing of virtual and non-virtual work placements. Moreover, schools are increasingly using Inspiring the Future to find volunteers to take part in career guidance activities that use video streaming, notably online career talks.

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Published on the 16/06/2023

Launch year2012

How many schools are currently making use of it?250+

Other tagsIs informed by research, Has been evaluated, Free of cost

Career developmentEngaging employers, Job fairs & career talks

Age groupLower-secondary (ages 12 to 15), Upper-secondary (ages 16 to 18)

TechnologyVideo streaming

CountriesAustralia, United Kingdom, New Zealand

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Resource overview

Website: Inspiring the Future

Teachers and guidance counsellors can search a national database of tens of thousands of volunteers and find people who suit their needs and the needs of their students. They can search for people living in their area or across the country and narrow down their search by using filters to choose the most suitable volunteers for them by: the sector they work in; the subjects they studied at school; if they did an apprenticeship, started their own business or went to university; which languages they speak; of if they can speak about working with a disability.

It uses the same technology as online shopping and teachers can add the volunteers they select to their 'shopping basket' and then send them (individually or collectively) a message about a career development activity they want to deliver. The bespoke messaging system makes it very easy for schools to organise activities and manage invitations. It is also very easy for volunteers who can respond to invitations by just a single click.

Many employers and professional bodies use the system to support their staff volunteering programmes as it enables them to connect to schools at scale and receive management information about their engagement and impact.

The software system is also able to provide a range of detailed reports and analytics for government, funders, employers and educators.

When Inspiring the Future was launched its focus was solely on secondary schools but due to demand from primary schools it was extended under the name Primary Futures which is also featured on the Observatory.

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Description of technology

The online system uses the same technology used by many of the major retailers, online shopping, hotel booking etc - the Salesforce customer relationship management. It also incorporates a sophisticated mapping function provided by Ordnance Survey.

How the resource makes career guidance more effective, efficient and/or equitable for students

Inspiring the Future was designed in partnership with the leaders of the main organisations representing education and employers and the UK government to find a way to ensure that all young people had the opportunity to engage with employers. It is low cost way of connecting schools and volunteers on a national scale which is effective, efficient, and equitable. It enables teachers to quickly and easily find volunteers from the world of work who are most suited to their requirements and the needs of their students which allows focussed support for the schools and young people who need it most. The member of the school staff is in effect the ‘customer’ with direct control over who they approach (effectiveness), costs are low (efficiency) and because it is national and doesn’t rely on intermediaries it allows targeted campaigns (equity).

Inspiring the Future is available within the UK and its territories, including Jersey and the Isle of Man. Other countries are now replicating the system and Education and Employers, the parent charity behind Inspiring the Future is very happy to support them in doing so – for example, New Zealand: and Australia:

Challenges or potential barriers to use

The system is designed to match schools and volunteers at scale and to do so in a very cost-efficient way. In order to do this, there needs to be a way of getting schools and employers engaged. Particularly effective are engagement campaigns that work through existing organisations and networks, such as trade unions and professional bodies representing teachers and employer associations and trade bodies representing people in work. Working through these organisations, a small national team can quickly build the Inspiring the Future model.

The resource is free of charge.

Support for users

Over 12 years, a range of resources have been developed for schools and volunteers and these are all easily accessible on the online platform. These include both advice on how to use the platform to help schools identify potential volunteers and guidance on how they can be best used to optimise the impact of guidance activities that draw on the engagement of employers and people in work.


Further advice for users

The Inspiring the Future team would be very happy to discuss how the system could be used in other countries.

Additional details

Has the resource been…

Yes or No?



…informed by research?


It is underpinned by over 12 years research by the parent charity, Education and Employers which has shown that education and employers have a great deal to gain from working together, ensuring that young people achieve their potential and supporting the future talent pipeline for economic prosperity. Encounters with the world of work have been proven to help broaden young people’s horizons, raise aspirations, challenge gender and ethnic stereotypes, increase motivation, improve attainment, reduce the likelihood of them becoming unemployed and increase their earning potential.

…funded by government?


Inspiring the Future was launched as part of the UK Government’s social mobility strategy and a number of Government departments are using the system to connect with schools.

…recognized by peers?




Inspiring the Future is evaluated internally with results of its progress published.

This resource has been endorsed by the Addey and Stanhope School, Deptfpord, England.

Disclaimer: This content is provided by the submitting organisation.