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Lady at Form the Future Annual Conference

Form the Future’s Annual Conference 2020 – read the review

We recently hosted our Annual Conference  – and for the first time the event was hosted virtually, marking a move to digital that the organisation has been building on throughout the year.

In a year that has seen young people disproportionately affected by Covid-19, the economic legacy of Covid-19 is likely to result in more pupils experiencing poverty and the challenging family circumstances that create educational disadvantage.

At our annual conference, we brought together business and school leaders from across the region for the largest business and education conference – exploring how we can equip young people with the skills they need for the future of work; and how we can help local companies generate the talent they need.

The speakers
The conference kicked off with an introduction from Anne Bailey, who touched on Form the Future’s unusual year and how the organisation has adapted to the challenges of supporting young people throughout the pandemic. Attendees then heard from a panel of speakers:
  • Professor Anna VignolesProfessor of Education and Fellow of Jesus College at the University of Cambridge, addressed attendees next, and discussed the impact of COVID-19 on young people.
  • Oli de BottonExecutive Headteacher of School 21, spoke next – discussing the school’s innovative ‘head, heart and hand’ approach to education, and the opportunity to rethink some of the central questions in education.
  • Jane Paterson-ToddCEO of Cambridge Ahead, spoke next – providing a summary of the Rand report on careers guidance in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
  • Councillor Neil Gough, representative for South Cambridgeshire District Council and Skills Lead for the Greater Cambridge Partnership, gave a view on the skills agenda from a local government perspective, and discussed how the GCP plans to address the current skills challenges.
  • Alex Hughes, Founder of Shifties and one of our conference sponsors, spoke about the need to promote entrepreneurship in school.
  • Naily MakanguDirector and Founder of Athena Leaders and one of our conference sponsors, spoke to attendees about work experience, and what we can do to provide young people with opportunities to build and develop their skills.
The workshops

Attendees then chose from a variety of workshops, covering topics such as Apprenticeships as a solution to the skills crisis, how to facilitate work experience remotely, and if we need a ‘Cambridge curriculum’.

So what’s next?

Thank you to everyone who joined Form the Future for our first virtual Annual Conference. It was fantastic to hear from so many attendees, and have such positive engagement with our speakers.

We’d like to thank our conference sponsors – Athena Leaders, Cambridge Independent, The Cambridge Building Society, Kameo Recruitment, Lexington Communications, Shifties and The University of Cambridge, a participant of Annual Food Agenda, funded by EIT Food – for their support in helping us to make our conference a reality.

We would like to continue the conversations that emerged at our conference, and find ways of meeting up more than once a year.

So next year we’ll be running a series of virtual coffee-mornings and we hope you’ll be able to drop in. Each will have a theme, an occasional speaker, and plenty of time to talk and share. The first one will continue discussions on how we can create more inclusive workplaces. Everyone is welcome! Book here now.

You can read the full report of our Annual Conference here.


Register to volunteer

Thank you for choosing to become a volunteer with Form the Future! In order to join our volunteer community and get yourself involved in some of our events, please follow these steps:


  1. Click the button below and complete the Registration Form
  2. Upon receiving your completed form we will create a Volunteer Profile for you then send you log in details and information on how to sign up for volunteering opportunities
  3. You can then sign up for volunteering opportunities at your leisure!


Our goal is that all young people move successfully from education into employment. As a social enterprise, we are reliant on grants and corporate funding in order to work with the schools across Cambridgeshire. Even the smallest donation helps us to provide careers inspiration for every child. Click below to find out more about what your donation could do for young people in your community.