Wales leads way with Future First alumni initiative

The Welsh Government has become the first UK administration to put school alumni at the heart of boosting career prospects for students.

Ministers in Cardiff have teamed up with education charity Future First to create a new toolkit aimed at helping all Welsh state secondary schools and colleges to build thriving alumni networks.

Based on evidence of the positive impact of connecting a school’s past pupils with current students, the toolkit is the first example of a UK government developing an official initiative to harness the potential of alumni in boosting young people’s career prospects.

Wales has about 200 state secondary schools and colleges and Future First has worked with over a third of them during the past decade. The Welsh toolkit focuses on how schools can build an alumni network, engage with former pupils, and the activities they can use to bring lasting benefits to current students.

The initiative means all secondaries in Wales will now have the potential to harness the strength of alumni networks to inspire, motivate and build the confidence of students to go on and be successful in life. It comes at a crucial time, with evidence having emerged that the pandemic has severely impacted the aspirations, confidence and belief of young people for their future career prospects.

Initially, the toolkit will be intensively trialled in 10 schools as part of work being done by Careers Wales in the south Wales valleys. The participating schools are: Risca Comprehensive School, Abertillery Learning Community School, Blackwood Comprehensive School, Ysgol Garth Olwg, Cardinal Newman RC School, Tonyrefail Community School, Cyfarthfa High School, Pen y Dre High School, Maesteg Comprehensive School and Queen Elizabeth High. 

The Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport and chair of the Valleys Taskforce, Lee Waters said: “Children attending private schools often have a whole network of people outside of their school and immediate family who can help them to develop and progress their career ambitions.

“This programme is about giving comprehensive students across the South Wales Valleys that same level of support. Eventually we want to roll a version of this scheme out to all comprehensive schools.”

Lorraine Langham, Chief Executive of Future First, said: “The Welsh Government has broken new ground by officially recognising the crucial importance of alumni networks in boosting the career prospects of young people. 

“We’ve been delighted to develop this toolkit for schools in Wales. With scientific evidence now emerging of how our brains respond to relatable role models this initiative promises to provide lasting benefit to young people across the country.”

The toolkit has been funded by the Government’s Valleys Taskforce and has been designed to support the Careers and the World of Work framework for schools in Wales.