Guest Blog – Free:Formers

Techcityblog.co.uk is very lucky to have a second guest blog written by Free:Formers, a digital training and education company that connects business people with young talent to make ideas happen faster. Freeformers also undertakes number of ‘social good’ projects such as ONE:FOR1 = Business and Social impact and Web for Everyone = giving thousands of people – young and old – the power to not only use the web, but create it. 

“I’m on a mission to make a real difference to people’s lives, helping young people to get work in the digital space.  I set up Free:Formers with the gregarious entrepreneur Gi Fernando to solve the demand/supply problem of the digital skills gap.

Businesses are crying out for tech savvy people and often have to search outside their current workforce for the best talent in design, IT and social media.  Employers are all fishing from the same talent pool.

At the same time there are almost one million 16-25 year olds out of education and looking for work.  Young people who need workplace-relevant skills, and need a break to transform their digital know-how, creativity and entrepreneurial creative passions into a salary.

And this is exactly what Free:Formers ONE:FOR1 mission is all about, because for every business person we train, a young person gets a training place for free.

In partnership with The Prince’s Trust, UK Youth and The Duke of York’s iDEA scheme we have already delivered digital skills training to over 1,400 young people.

Just last week ONE:FOR1 got some significant recognition from some high up places.

I went up to Liverpool with Lewie, a Tech Trainer who has been part of the team for almost a year after discovering him on a ONE:FOR1 workshop.  Together we pitched the business and social impact of Free:Formers to the Duke of York himself and a panel of well-established entrepreneurs, making it into the National Business Awards finals for the New Entrepreneur of 2014.  You can watch it here.

Lewie is an amazingly talented guy, a great trainer, he is also becoming a businessman in his own right because of the leadership and digital skills he is developing at Free:Formers.

The entrepreneurs who stood out at the pitch event in Liverpool were those who had a passion for what they do. Because starting a new business is tough, you have to believe in what you are trying to achieve.  To be a success it can’t be a 9-5 job.  You get emotionally involved.  And that’s a good thing.

It’s because of ONE:FOR1 I am emotionally involved and passionate about Free:Formers.  It’s so powerful to see the difference we can make to young people, taking so many entrepreneurial dreams and ideas, and making them a possibility.  As part of our role as a delivery partner for the iDEA scheme we are doing exactly that.

To be standing next to young people like Lewie on a stage in front of peers and princes and hear the applause for what we achieve is so empowering.

I get to work with inspirational digital natives, like Lewie who teach people at all levels and stages of their career, to get the most out of digital.

As the only London Tech City company up for the award, I felt a responsibility to represent the exciting booming tech scene we are all part of.

Equally being a woman tech entrepreneur I knew this was a chance to bust a few myths that the tech scene is male dominated and change the narrative about powerful tech bosses are more often men than women.

So now the pressure is on to deliver a win on behalf of the people we have trained, the London tech scene and, oh yeah, all women.  No biggie…

But seriously if you’ve read this and think Free:Formers are doing the right thing it would be great to have your support and your vote:http://bit.ly/ffnba2014

Emma Cerrone
CEO of Free:Formers”

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