Gemma Hallett shares her story - MiFuture
Using technology to mobilise a generation towards employability and prosperity
MiFuture is an online digital careers profile that brings opportunities to the hands of young people ready to make career choices. With my teacher redundancy offer I self funded the tech development following a successful pilot. I am now seeking funding and support to take this app national with a clear mission of 'mobilising generation Z towards employability and prosperity' with a vision of capturing and re-engaging unemployed youth and NEETs, as well as providing a preventative digital careers profile for those about to leave full time education and training.
We have undergone a successful trial period working with disengaged and disadvantaged young people aged 16-24 in the South Wales valleys. Delivering our MiFuture digital careers profile in/with Schools, Charities, Homelessness and Care Leavers intervention projects, Communities First, School of Hard Knocks, GoConnect Employability Projects, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, and the Job Centre. We engaged with over 200 young people who have all received a free Digital Careers Profile accessible online and through our MiFuture App. Their personal profile provides a live feed of relevant earning, learning, training and volunteering, 3 positions which they can instantly apply for in a 'swipe'. The tech is being further developed ready for National roll out and wider impact.
Our MiFuture workshops (a social enterprise arm of the brand) have provided over 200 young people with access and support to a MiFuture profile; of which 32 have applied for earning, learning, training and/or volunteering positions. The young people we engaged with were furthest from the labour market, living in poverty, educational and social exclusion.
I spent 8 years as a teacher of 15 to 18 year olds, I was only allowed an hour every two weeks to guide and prepare classes of 20+ young school leavers, into life after school. Most were unsure of their options, confused by the system, or blinkered by the limits or their options. They would sit, glazed over by academic language of further or higher education, or dis-associated with a world of CVs, criteria, and with little affinity with traditional methods and written applications. They knew what they loved, they loved how they engage with everything else in the digital world, but year after year I watched so many of them either stall, or take the wrong path only to regret and regress into an uninspiring world.
I took some time out traveling, and connected with a broad range of interesting and inspired people. One evening I mentioned my personal frustrations and those of my learners, around the whole disconnected process they went through, and their lack of belief that they could acknowledge or even aspire to the world of opportunities that are out there for them. The other travellers agreed and could resonate having not long gone through the process themselves. Lost in the passion I felt telling my story, I had what I can only describe as an epiphany! I declared: "We need a Facebook for careers" an individualised connection to their options, in an environment they already live in; feeding opportunities direct to them. I remember this intense feeling of excitement in the pit of my stomach, as everyone around me gave a "hell yeah" or "that's perfect".
Back in teaching I embraced every opportunity for feedback from those I taught and valued the opinions of other teachers. I'd often pitch to the learners asking their opinions on the MiFuture concept and a year or so later when the first version of the website was ready for testing, I had access to the perfect audience, and the feedback was incredible. They had found a way to explore options that they were passionate about, engage and connect in a way that was native to them, and gained the confidence to take the next step. That's why I got into education to inspire and the future of our ever increasingly disenfranchised young people of today, and now, this is why my vision for MiFuture exists today.