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Four months of rapid growth as a Nesta semi-finalist

Neil Wood

The Rapid Recovery Challenge has funded progress at pace

The Bridge of Hope has reached more new candidates and employers than even our most hopeful projections, in the four months since Nesta made us one of their Rapid Recovery Challenge semi-finalists.

This week, we reached 40,000 registered candidates on our site. They can view over 30,000 live jobs from inclusive employers every day, and have been making 8,000 applications a month.

Thanks to the efforts of our sales and recruitment teams, and our hard-working ‘tech stack’, we have smashed our targets. More than that, while exact figures are impossible to track, we estimate that over 80 of our candidates will have found long-term employment as a result of using BRIDGEOFHOPE.CAREERS, including around 60 candidates of the type targeted directly by Nesta.

How we spent the investment

Nesta is the UK’s innovation agency for social good, and last December it gave Bridge of Hope and 13 other 14 organisations £125,000 each to invest in new tools and services that improve people’s access to employment and money across the UK. They were particularly focused on those most affected by the Covid economic crash: 16-to-24 year-olds, people on low incomes, and people in insecure roles like zero-hours or part-time contracts.

BRIDGEOFHOPE.CAREERS was already growing, thanks to funding from Innovate UK, but our successful Nesta bid allowed us to pick up the pace and spend more on upgrading the technology. That includes redesigning the look and feel of the portal itself to make it more user-friendly and accessible (launching mid-April), following consultation with some of our candidates. We’ve also been able to get support service contracts in place more rapidly to support our growth, invested in marketing (including a growing presence on social media) and hired more people to engage directly with inclusive employers and hard-working charities and agencies.

In particular, we’re intent on signing up enough major employers through our disruptive subscription model that we can make the careers portal self-financing in the long-term, rather than depending on investment from bodies like Nesta and Innovate, welcome as they are. Any excess revenues will then be shared among our referral partners.

Success breeds success

The more employers we bring on board, the more others want to join in, and the more jobs we have posted, the more referral partners and self-referring candidates want to sign up to find meaningful work.

We’ve also learned a lot, including the importance of being able to track successful outcomes more successfully than the technology will allow at the moment. We’re currently exploring how we can do that more reliably in the future.

Working with Nesta has been a rare privilege. For one thing, we’ve benefited from the expertise of their partners, like JP Morgan Chase, Deloitte, McKinsey and Co and others, who are standard-bearers for improving access to employment and finance. We’ve also established new relationships with some of Nesta’s other semi-finalists, including City & Guilds, Sort Your Future and Springboard. These alliances in turn mean our referral partners can help their service users get job-ready more quickly and effectively, which will bring them to the job market – and our portal – more quickly too.

With these collaborative partnerships in place, our long-term goal is to make BRIDGEOFHOPE.CAREERS a truly integrated careers portal: a place where people can get career advice and training, and register for courses to support their employment needs, as well as search for and find jobs.

Next week, we’ll learn whether we’ve been one of the six semi-finalists to win a further grant and proceed to the final round of investment. We count ourselves in rare and special company to have come this far, and we wish the other applicants every success. Whether we advance with Nesta or not, we look forward to continuing to work with our new partners to help more marginalised people get into meaningful employment with progressive and inclusive employers.

Because that’s what it’s all about.

For more information about working with BRIDGEOFHOPE.CAREERS, whether as a funder, employer or referral partner, please do get in touch.


Neil Wood is Special Projects Manager for Prosper4 Group and BRIDGEOFHOPE.CAREERS

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