Experience ‘will ready young for future jobs’

Technology will create more jobs than it reduces over our lifetimes – but to navigate the changes that lie ahead young people must gain experience with the businesses creating the tech jobs of the future, the co-founder of LinkedIn told business leaders in London this week. Julian Blake reports.

Reid Hoffman Workfinder launchReid Hoffman, who started the professional social network in 2002, was in the capital to add his support to a new digital route into work experience through the new Workfinder app for young people aged 16-18.

The new app, released by London-based Founders4Schools, aims to connect young people with work placements at great companies in just a few taps.

Hoffman – one of the world’s leading internet entrepreneurs – told the audience at Guildhall that he was optimistic about the future of work, despite the constantly changing nature of careers. “The old refrain is that the old jobs go away, but in fact technology creates a lot of jobs,” he said. “I am bullish that over our lifetimes technology will actually create more jobs than it reduces.”

“What will happen is there will be creation of a lot more jobs and a lot of work opportunities that will require a lot more new skills adapted to that – which is why you should be doing internships,” he said.

workfinder iphoneAfter three years in development, the Workfinder app has launched with the backing of 23,000 leaders from over 8,000 businesses. It aims to help 1.8m young people into placements.

At Tuesday’s launch, other business leaders set out how they would work with education to inspire and provide the next generation with work experience opportunities and empower them to explore the world of work on their own terms.

Those supporting Workfinder in a public pledge to offer “meaningful work experience placements” include co-founder Martha Lane Fox, Unruly’s Sarah Wood, Babylon Health CEO Ali Parsa and Tech London Advocates founder Russ Shaw. “Our intention is to give them a well-rounded and practical introduction to the kinds of roles they might want to pursue in future,” say the pledgers.

Hoffman said it was important for businesses to “think about the mission and the emotional connectivity of your workforce. If you’re providing these kinds of project experiences, your workforce feels connected and feels meaning. That impact is good for your business.”

“The future is what we invent,” he added. “Bringing in people to do projects is something that will add a lot of energy into your workplace, so it’s both the joy of doing something for society and something that’s within your specific self-interest.”

workfindersmileFounders4Schools founder Sherry Coutu unveiled Workfinder – available on iOS and as a web app – with features designed to help young people to discover career opportunities with businesses in their local area. The app is designed to put the young person at the centre of the search process, with data-driven geo-location, auto-messaging, social and notification functions.

Coutu said the app would open up access to work placements for millions of young people across the UK. “The UK’s skills crisis is building into a perfect storm with young people unprepared for the workplace and businesses unable to access a pipeline of skilled talent,” she said.

“Workfinder seeks to tackle this problem head-on, providing a model for work experience that places young people at its heart, opening access to meaningful placements in the country’s leading businesses. This will build a pipeline of talent that unlocks the potential of the next generation of leaders and pioneers.”

Coutu (pictured above with Hoffman), who also chairs the influential ScaleUp Institute, was a winner at DigitalAgenda’s inaugural Impact Award in 2017 for the work of Founders4Schools in connecting schools to the world of work through inspiring business leader talks and more. Since foundation it has formed partnerships with dozens of national and local organisations and connected over 100,000 young people to businesses.

US-born Hoffman is a partner at Facebook and Airbnb investor Greylock and a Microsoft board member since its $26bn mega-acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016.

His philanthropic work includes board roles at microlending platform, Mozilla, Endeavour Global and Do Something. He also backs OpenAI, the non-profit set up to help the safe development of artificial intelligence. In the UK he advises Entrepreneur First, as well as Founders4Schools.