The Importance of Role Models in Shaping Young Futures
9 Oct 2023

Neelam Jagait

By Neelam Jagait, Community Engagement Manager, Founders4Schools

As we gather once again to celebrate Role Model Week at F4S for the third consecutive year, we ask ourselves a fundamental question: "Who is your role model, and why?" This question prompts us to not only reminisce about those individuals who inspired us but to contemplate the significant number of underserved students who, regrettably, lack access to such vital influences.

The Role of Role Models:

Personally, I consider myself fortunate to have been surrounded by positive role models throughout my life—supportive educators, nurturing family members, and devoted friends. However, we are aware of the numerous young individuals who are not as fortunate. Astonishingly, statistics reveal that one in four young people finds themselves without a role model. Why is this an issue? Well, the Education and Employers Taskforce found that students who experience four or more employer encounters will on average earn 18% more by the time they are 30.

The Harsh Reality:

In 2018 the Independent reported on a study involving more than 1,000 children aged 10 to 16 that revealed over 25 percent of them lack a role model to look up to. As a result, these young people are increasingly turning to celebrities online for career advice. To us at Founders4Schools this demonstrates the urgent need for relatable role models from diverse fields to be engaging with young people in schools. Sadly, since then with a global pandemic leading to school closures and remote learning the situation has not improved. Responses from young people to the 2023 Youth Census showed that they remain disconnected from role models with only 3 in 10 young people agreeing that they have a role model in their local community. This is despite a real focus on career education in schools over the last couple of years where schools have been working to help young people engage with and identify role models to help support their future career decisions.

The Impact on Industry:

Traditionally many young people left school and went into roles that had clearly defined pathways such as apprenticeships of old, where they would receive a mentor and they would likely remain with that company for a significant amount of time if not their entire career. The world of work today is not like that anymore, even though there has been a very welcome resurgence in apprenticeships at all education levels. The world of work is constantly changing, the World Economic Forum report on the Future of Work indicated that employers expected around a quarter of jobs to change in the next 5 years. The consequences of this are that industries that fail to inspire and engage young talent will be deprived of the skilled workforce they require.

Our Call to Action:

Role Model Week serves as a reminder that we can all contribute to shaping a brighter future for young people by simply sharing our own stories. F4S has harnessed a brilliant volunteer community of over 6,000 role models who are driven by the desire to inspire the next generation. They accomplish this by sharing their personal career journeys, fostering inspiration, and curiosity in the many different career pathways and industries available to young people.

At F4S, we stand ready to bridge the gap between young people and role models from the world of work who can give real-life insight. We invite educators to book a career encounter with our dedicated role models and to help us celebrate the influence of role models in our society. From mathematics to media, we are diligently recruiting role model volunteers from an array of vocations and sectors, united in our mission to raise aspirations, enhance employment prospects, and reduce the risk of young individuals finding themselves outside the positive destinations of employment, education, or training once they leave school.

What can we do to change this?

As we reflect on Role Model Week at F4S, we acknowledge the imperative role played by role models. The statistics may be discouraging, but they also serve as a catalyst for change. Let us collectively rise to the challenge and guide the next generation towards brighter and more promising futures by connecting them with role models.

>>For educators that means continuing to ensure their students get opportunities to engage with people from the world of business as often as possible. For example, you can book one of our volunteers to come into your school.

>> For business, it means committing to help prepare the next generation of talent whether that be through offering work experience, encouraging staff to volunteer in schools, or working with education to ensure young people are being taught the skills needed for the current and future workplace and the many other ways education asks for your support.

>> For the individual, volunteering for charities like Founders4Schools or with your local school is a helpful way to make sure young people have a brighter future.


  1. "One in four children do not have role models, study claims" (2018), Rob Knight, The Independent (Online),
  2. Key findings from our research (October 2023), Educators & Employers (Online)
  3. Youth Census 2023 (Online), Youth Employment UK,
    Future of Jobs Report 2023: Up to a Quarter of Jobs Expected to Change in Next Five Years (30 Apr 2023), World Economic Forum (Online),

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