Form the Future | Annual Conference 2023 Report

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THE MØLLER INSTITUTE | 1ST DECEMBER 2023 How to prepare young people for a rapidly changing world

Welcome Talk from Anne Bailey In her introduction, Anne highlighted the progress we’ve made in the last year. Highlights, from our latest Impact Report, include enabling 28,520 careers encounters last year (nearly double the previous year), increasing the number of schools we work with from 66 to 134, and spending 545 days delivering 121 guidance sessions.

Opening Words from Daniel Zeichner MP We were thrilled to have Daniel Zeichner, the Labour MP for Cambridge, giving the opening talk on our Main Stage at our Annual Conference 2023. To a packed conference room, he highlighted the need for skills development and the scope for the apprenticeship levy funding to be used more flexibly.

How Do We Prepare Young People for a Rapidly Changing World? Our first panel was an introduction to ideas around places and spaces. What is significant about the Cambridge city region and the wider East of England? How is the workplace changing and what does that mean for the jobs that today’s students will be doing in the future? How will they work with the growth in technology and what does that mean for the skills they will need? How do we make sure that growth in our region is truly inclusive, opening up opportunities for all? We welcomed to the stage Miguela Gonzalez from Abcam, Richard Owers from Owers Warwick Architects, Tyler Shores from the University of Cambridge ThinkLab, and Richard van Lente from Railpen, to discuss how we prepare young people for a rapidly changing world.

Gen Z in the Workplace This panel, including Charlotte Horobin from the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, Ryan Kelsall from Eastern Learning Alliance, and Charlotte Steggall from Willis Towers Watson, debated Gen Z's self-identification, acknowledging their awareness due to social media exposure and the ubiquity of the term "Gen Zedder”. They worried that educators and employers might reinforce stereotypes, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, the panel concurred that Gen Z's actual behaviour doesn’t differ from past generations; they experience similar life stages and require equivalent support. The panel addressed a common misconception about Gen Z's technological proficiency. Despite being labelled as "digital natives”, this generation may not inherently possess the necessary skills for today's workplace technology. Familiarity with smartphones and social media doesn't necessarily equate to proficiency with professional software like MS Outlook or Excel. Hence, there remains a constant need for employers to offer appropriate training in these areas.



The Impact of Apprenticeships Introduced by Gareth John from First Intuition this panel offered a comprehensive view of apprenticeship programmes from the perspectives of both employers and educators. The panellists, including Siobhan Williams from UCAS, Dan Edwards of Marshall Skills Academy, Robert Leeman from ARM, Rachel Cooper from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, and Maureen Horan from Cambridge Regional College, shared their experiences and insights. They discussed the significant impact of apprentices on businesses, the changes implemented for their integration, and the rationale behind investing in these programmes. The session highlighted the increasing accessibility of Apprenticeship programmes via UCAS. Additionally, trainers provided viewpoints on the broader impact of apprenticeships. This panel session was notable for its in-depth exploration of how apprenticeships are shaping the workforce and contributing to the growth of businesses and educational institutions. Closing the Skills Gap Through the Power of Apprenticeships This panel addressed the critical skills gap crisis in the UK and the evolving demands of the job market. Panellists including Richard Kerr from CIMPSA, Charlotte Steggall from WTW, Susan Earnshaw from Form the Future, and Amy Forrest from First Intuition, discussed the pivotal role of apprenticeships in bridging this gap and the significant role educators play in this process. The interactive session delved into how apprenticeships could be the solution to ensuring the workforce meets industry needs. It also highlighted the necessary steps to maintain a stream of skilled individuals to fill critical organisational roles.

Apprenticeship Journeys - Insights from Apprentices and Employers Apprenticeships provide numerous benefits, according to a panel of apprentices and managers, chaired by Amy Forrest from First Intuition: Apprentices earn while learning, avoiding educational debt The training is practical and engaging, offering a break from traditional classroom settings Participants gain work experience alongside academic and professional qualifications Programmes encourage taking responsibility and mastering professional communication Development occurs in increments, from managing small tasks to giving presentations Apprentices have access to senior staff, fostering confidence and insight into organisational expectations They enjoy a balanced work-life, with opportunities for public speaking and social activities There is an emphasis on personal and character development, time management, and cross-functional skills Apprentices build professional networks and can mentor others, enhancing community contributions These programs also improve soft skills and departmental understanding, making them an enjoyable and comprehensive learning experience

Future of Apprenticeships and the Jobs of Tomorrow The "Future of Apprenticeships and the Jobs of Tomorrow" panel, chaired by Gareth John from First Intuition, was a captivating and insightful exploration into apprenticeships. The session was divided into two parts. The first focused on the political challenges and policies impacting apprenticeships and skill development, while the second delved into growing sectors and future job opportunities. Panellists, including Alex Rossiter from Cambridge Ahead, Joe Crossley from AELP, David May from the University of Lincoln, Christina Dumitriu Jackson from AstraZeneca, and Daniel Clarke from the Greater Cambridge Partnership, provided a rich mix of perspectives, blending policy analysis with real-world applications. Their insights on the evolving demands of industries and the necessary skills for future jobs were particularly enlightening.



Benefits of Volunteering to Employee Engagement This panel included Sophie Banks from The Cambridge Building Society, Vicky Evans from Cambridge University Press & Assessment, Risa Nagasaki from Ingleton Wood LLP, and Niki Hughes from the University of Cambridge Museums. The highlights were hearing about how ambassador volunteering has: Invigorated their and their colleagues’ passion for daily work Developed young people’s essential financial intelligence Enhanced their company’s understanding of the next generation to help them (both the young people and the business) be fit for the future Been integrated into corporate best practice and celebrated/championed by all levels (including senior leadership) across their business Had huge positive impact by bringing employees out from behind the ‘machinery’ of their every day jobs to appreciate how they ‘fit’ into the bigger picture

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion The EDI panel, which included Nadine Blandin from Hays, Dr. Alexandra Bulat from Cambridgeshire County Council, Miguela Gonzalez from Abcam, and Anna Marsden from First Ascent Group, aimed to have a conversation with frankness and challenging commentary and they certainly did that. What we didn’t want was another EDI conversation without making it abundantly clear how each person can take this forward meaningfully. The takeaways to implement were: Measure everything. How do you know if you are doing what you set out to do without having some objective measure? Don’t avoid the conversation. Speak out and listen twice as hard. Be curious about the lived experience of others Be the one to lift others up, be the sponsor who supports others with investment of confidence, practical support in learning and involvement in your network

Primary School and Careers Learning The panellists for this discussion included Dr Jinx St.Léger from the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, Rae Snape, Headteacher at Milton Road Primary School, and Hector Wheatley from Illumina. They discussed that children often develop limiting beliefs at an early age. It's crucial to show them that they can achieve what they initially think is impossible. Engaging with students at the secondary level is often too late before these limiting beliefs set in. The earlier we start, the more significant the impact we can have on social mobility and Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). It's not enough to simply advocate for EDI in hiring practices; we must also address the foundational factors that enable us to recruit a diverse range of talent and share their experiences.

Net Zero & Sustainability This panel, which included Joanna Bonnett from the Green Jobs Foundation, Fiona McGonigle from Anglia Ruskin University, Rob Metcalfe from Cambridge Regional College, and Amy Munro-Faure from Cambridge Zero and the University of Cambridge, explored what we mean when we talk about ‘green jobs’ and the ‘green economy’ as well as the skills needed to work within them. Many of the skills needed for the green economy, such as adaptability, communication, and leadership were some of the clearest examples of skills needed more generally from an economy that is changing at a rapid pace. On the topic of moving toward Net Zero, there was some healthy debate about how best to prepare young people to work in polluting industries that don’t align with their values in order to help change them. There was agreement that this is one of the big challenges for this generation, and that educators and employers have a responsibility to engage young people in discussion over the skills and attributes they would need to navigate the situation.



Gen Z - Challenges and Opportunities of one of the Most Diverse Generations Thank you to our panellists Eva Woods from Careers Hub Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Faith Falayi from the University of Cambridge, Tariq Sadiq from Long Road Sixth Form College, and Sam Squire from Inspire 2 Ignite CIC for their insightful thoughts on this important subject.

Next Generation Cambridgeshire: An Insight into the Local Labour Market Thank you to Dominic Milham, Insight Analyst at Cambridgeshire County Council, who, on the Careers Hub Stage, gave a wonderful presentation to a packed room on the local labour market. Exploring the New Employer Standards - Outreach to Intake Laura Zamburlini from The Careers & Enterprise Company presented the new Employer Standards framework designed to engage more employers in careers education.

From Automation to Zedonks: Trends Shaping the Future World of Work At the end of a full day of panel talks, speeches, and networking what you need is someone who can keep your attention effortlessly. Dr Nicola Millard, Principal Innovation Partner at BT was that person. It was fascinating to hear how technology could change the way in which so many of us do our jobs in the future. We're talking AI, holograms, VR, mixed reality and much more. Thoroughly brilliant!

Final Words In the final moments on the Main Stage at our Annual Conference, Form the Future’s CEO Anne Bailey introduced the new Chair Prashant Shah, and together they talked about the ongoing evolution of Form the Future and the work ahead.

I hope you agree that we’ve had some fantastic speakers and discussions, covering a broad range of perspectives on our theme: How do we prepare young people for a rapidly changing world? Whether it’s getting to grips with generational differences, making our workplaces more inclusive, introducing young people to careers that tackle climate change, or adapting to new technologies, there’s a lot we can and need to do to make sure young people can progress through education, into employment, and live productive, healthy and meaningful lives. Anne Bailey, CEO, Form the Future #FtFConference2023










Cambridge Tech Podcast - Hosted by James Parton and Faye Holland


Thank you to the brilliant team at Cambridge Tech Podcast who spent the day interviewing attendees at our conference, plus a special interview with Anne Bailey and Prashant Shah.

Assisted by work experience students from Long Road Sixth Form College, Somersault, the Cambridgeshire-based branding and digital content agency, worked tirelessly in the background capturing the highlights and interviews from our conference.

We look forward to listening when the episode is released on the 17th December -

Tap here to see full video




Are you an Apprenticeships employer? If so, you might like to join Form the Future for its Apprenticeships Careers Fair which aims to inspire students from Years 10-13 on the wealth of apprenticeship opportunities available in our region.

On Tuesday, 5th March 2024, Form the Future will be holding its Annual Primary Schools Career Fair. The event will be held in conjunction with Cambridge Regional College, who will be hosting it, and is timed to coincide with National Careers Week.

This year, the fair will be held at Impington Village College on Tuesday, 30th January 2024 (the week prior to National Apprenticeships Week) and will run from 9am until 3.30pm.

The aim of the event is to create a fun, memorable and inspiring day that will broaden the horizons of the students (aged 9-11) and introduce them to the career opportunities available in the Greater Cambridge area and give them an early start in thinking about the decisions that they will need to make relating to their educational journey whilst at Secondary School.

To find out more, please email Catherine Hay

To register your interest, please email Catherine Hay



Form the Future CIC Future Business Centre Kings Hedges Road Cambridge CB4 2HY Registered No. 09648854 Form the Future CIC

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