FastFutures is a ground-breaking digital and personal skills programme, coaching education leavers on vital workplace skills, backed by leading global employers to help secure part or full-time employment It aims to provide tens of thousands of free places annually, with inaugural 12-week programme launching with 1,000 free places The programme will be a critical part of the national effort to turbocharge the country’s COVID-19 economic and productivity recovery, bridging the gap between education and employment, and supporting existing government initiatives FastFutures is designed to appeal to and prioritise underrepresented groups using a transformative approach to deliver a diverse group of participants and help address inequalities across the workforce

LEPs join global employers in support of ground breaking digital skills programme for young people

Launched this week, FastFutures is a unique programme designed to provide participants with the skills employers value now and in the future, futureproofing careers and limiting a potentially damaging skills gap for this generation entering employment. The programme is fully-scalable and aims to provide tens of thousands of free places annually.

The inaugural 12-week programme is being launched with 1,000 free places funded by the founding employers. Additional cohorts of a similar sizes are expected in the months ahead as more businesses partners join the programme.

COVID-19 has resulted in limited available internships and work placements which traditionally provide the vital experiences and business skills that help to secure full-time employment. FastFutures aims to provide this age-group with a bridge from education to career opportunities, with a programme specifically designed to develop the skills most valued by employers, both today and in the years’ to come.

The UK has never seen a greater demand, nor an immediate requirement, for digital skills. FastFutures aims to help solve this critical shortage, preparing individuals as companies accelerate to a digital workplace. There is a grave risk that the COVID-19 impact will inflict a double blow on our workforce: a wasted generation and a crippling shortage of the digital and technology skills that the UK vitally needs to kick-start its economic recovery.

Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to FastFutures. The programme will use a carefully tailored, and fully inclusive recruitment process to appeal to and prioritise underrepresented groups to deliver a diverse cohort of participants.

FastFutures has been designed in collaboration with its founding employers to ensure the skills developed are those in demand from employers. Successful applicants will learn practical, business-focused skills via a 12-week programme, alongside site visits to founding employer workplaces, coaching and mentoring from business experts. Modules include a practical business project, the role of data in a commercial setting, marketing, the importance of teamwork, and a basic understanding of finance. Online modules will be taught through set weekly learning hours, in addition to collaborative workshops, group projects and seminars, all using Avado’s connected learning platform. Coupled with this, mentors, provided by founding employers, will advise on the softer skills needed to succeed in the workplace.

The founding employers, AstraZeneca, Agilisys, AO.com, Barclays, Blenheim Chalcot, BT, Legal & General, Modulr, Health Education England and its partner NHS bodies, Octopus Group, Salary Finance and Tate & Lyle, have committed the financial resources to ensure that this programme is free for all participants, enabling any individual to apply regardless of circumstance and background. The employers will also provide mentor support across the programme and have guaranteed job interviews with employment opportunities for those that are successful through their assessment processes.

FastFutures is being launched by Blenheim Chalcot, the UK’s leading digital venture builder, and will be delivered by Avado, the country’s leading digital vocational skills provider, supported by Hive Learning to enable a modern, social learning experience. It is also working with the Local Enterprise Partnership Network so see how LEPs’ existing skills infrastructure could be deployed to speed up implementation and extend FastFuture’s reach to young people at a local level.

Mark Bretton, Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership Network, said: 

“A programme that supports and enables our young people to gain the digital and personal skills they’ll need for their future careers is a great initiative. The fact it’s backed by some of the leading businesses in the UK and prioritises underrepresented groups will target those who need it most. 

"We look forward to working with the programme team to see how LEPs can use our existing, proven skills infrastructure to accelerate implementation and help our young people to access the opportunities they deserve.”

Applications for the first cohort of the programme close on 13 August, and as additional employers join we will be able to open up applications for the next cohorts throughout this year. 

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