ThinkForward programme

Our ThinkForward programme works with young people who face challenges on their path to success to get them ready for the world of work. We established in London in 2011, expanded to Nottingham in 2016 and set up in Kent in 2017.

We develop the skills that young people need, help them overcome the challenges that keep them from succeeding, and facilitate employability activities to broaden their horizons and provide experience of the workplace. 

Our work focuses on raising the confidence and aspirations of young people so that they can put their education into context and begin to develop their own ambitions.

ThinkForward is unique because we run the only programme of its kind that works with young people for the full five years that they are in education, starting in Year 9 when they are 13.

The key to our success is our highly skilled coaches who build consistent, trusted relationships with young people through one-to-one coaching and group work sessions. Students’ progress is tracked along seven Work Readiness Capabilities which were identified by employers as being the most desirable qualities in staff. They are: self-assured, self-aware, driven, receptive, resilient, organised and good communicator. Brought together, these transferable skills help to equip young people for their future careers.

Crucially, ThinkForward also offers young people a range of opportunities to connect with, and get experience of, the world of work. These essential activities include business mentoring, insight days, CV writing and interview skills workshops, and work experience placements.

By partnering with a range of businesses from local employers through to large, national companies we provide young people with relevant exposures to the workplace, in many cases bridging a gap that school, family and community networks are not able to.

Business mentoring

Our business mentoring programme partners each of our schools with a local employer, and staff volunteers mentor Year 10 students. They share their experiences, build meaningful relationships, give advice and encouragement and break down barriers to the world of work.

We also run a mentoring programme for older students following their GCSEs. Mentors support young people in a very practical way to achieve their career goals, for example through interview practice, fine tuning CVs and applying for jobs online.

Both mentoring programmes recognise the huge benefit to young people of meeting regularly with, and learning from, working adults from outside their regular network.

Impact

86% of ThinkForward’s 2019 graduates were in education, employment or training six months after leaving the programme.

Our approach is effective and shows that we can, in many cases, overcome the fundamental obstacles our students face, enabling them to gain the life and work skills, experiences, aspiration and confidence they need to succeed.

“The foundation of ThinkForward is building relationships and support because that leads to everything else. By getting someone’s trust you win them over and from there you can change their life.”
– Davonne, 19, London