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Caroline Walmsley, CEO of Further My Future

Caroline Walmsley co-founder and CEO of Further My Future and Director of progressive management consultancy Hello Sailor! – from 2014-2016 Caroline was CEO of Brightwave.

Further My Future launched last summer; it’s a tech careers guidance company that speaks directly to young people, to help them make decisions about their future careers. Caroline has an unerring communication skill of talking with younger people at the start of their careers, rather than speaking down to them.

Today she’s speaking on How Can We Do More For Emerging Talent?


I’ve made a shitload of mistakes as people in the room can tell you, I’m nothing if not a six foot work-in-progress.

About 24 years ago, I stumbled into university because I was guided towards it. I didn’t know what I wanted on the other side. I’m old enough to have avoided tuition fees – but today, average graduate debt is £51,000. People are 2.3x more likely to apply if they know they can afford it, ie from better advantaged homes and families.

So do employers miss out on talent because of this economic barrier?

It’s clear they do. When we talk about diversity in talent and recruitment, are we talking about poverty? I don’t know if we are. In Kate Pickett’s important book The Spirit Level she argues “uneven societies waste a huge amount of talent.”

So what about the 50% who can’t afford to go to university? How can employers find them? It needs more than a jobs board or some software, we need to broker a new relationship between potential employers and young people. And while it’s great to operate with a social conscience, there are big economic imperatives for this, too.

Graduates or not, too many people leave education without key skills. Without consensus about responsibility it’s (too often) left to employers to pick up the pieces, for whom its too much of a burden.

Your business is only as good as your people. If you’re recruiting it’s because people are leaving, or you’re growing, or both. Events like these and yesterday exist because the model isn’t perfect. Agencies can be expensive and don’t always consider culture / values fit as well as skills fit.

I think, as well as young people deserving better, employers deserve better too.

Long term benefits are significant.

• Clear professional development path

• Ability to succession

• Strategic talent planning – ability to create academies

• Two-way mentoring – I’ve learnt more in six months from mentoring than in 25 years from older mentors (yesterday I was told being a bit prangy means)

• Diversity

Recruiting earlier, younger, has a pile of clear benefits, both short- and long-term.

Brilliant Brokerage:

20 year old Aisha wanted to join the conference but she’s in Cardiff, she replied to a Wired Sussex tweet about the event. I spoke to her, so she could be involved even though she can't get here. Here's Aisha:

“I’m 20 years old, I was going down a conventional route towards an English degree. This changed when I realised I wanted more from a degree. I was thinking about opting for a degree that included an apprenticeship element and some teachers actually argued against it, because of [old fashioned presumptions about the value of different kinds of education]. When you get taught that there’s a one way route via university, you don’t think about other options. There’s an age old disconnect. I saw the tweet about the Skills Summit and I was like that’s great, I’d love to learn... 

...What can I give as a young person to help make that a reality?”

[writer's note: this quotation is partly paraphrased from memory!]

Aisha made me think about how the disconnect across generations and a lack of experience is a barrier for young people. I was reminded of my first professional break when I had no experience but one man's informal mentorship helped me overcome that disadvantage. Without Martin Smart’s support and wisdom I wouldn’t have had this career.

We all need a Martin – and we could all be a Martin.

We want to raise the bar from bright talent and bold employers.


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