Forage, a free and open-access online library of job simulations designed by Fortune 500 companies, has landed in Central Louisiana by partnering with LSU of Alexandria in an innovative approach to provide students unprecedented access to career exploration and development. More than 100 companies have developed virtual experiences on the platform, in a catalog that keeps growing every month with new courses in different sectors. More than 2 million students and more than 300 universities are registered, and according to the data collected, students are up to four times more likely to land a job in their careers.
The mission of Forage is simple: democratize access to career opportunities and distribute it evenly through the use of technology, while allowing students the chance to explore their right fit in the workforce. The CEO of Forage, Thomas Brunskill, founded the platform in 2017 after reflecting on his own life. After his education, he stumbled from job to job, industry to industry until finding his fit years later. He wondered if there must be a better, easier way to find that happy place, and he came up with this idea. Beyond improving career exploration, he is also changing the way young professionals get ready to join the workforce with the concept of preskilling. This past year, Forage conducted an extensive survey of 1,000+ students in our ecosystem, which focused on the perception of career readiness and preparation. This survey
shed light on both the challenges that students face as they prepare to enter the world of work:
● Over half of college students (57%) are not confident or only somewhat confident
about finding relevant work experience during college.
● 65% of college students said understanding how industries and companies work in the
real world is very important or extremely important to them.
● 48% of college students are confident or very confident that they know how to find
the right career path.
These findings support the relevance of such partnerships to developing more career-ready students when they graduate from LSUA.
We talked to Harrison Bass, Head of Educational Partnerships at Forage who is based in New York City, to know more about how their platform is bridging the gap between education, career exploration, and equal access.
1. What is the idea or goal that Forage was born from?
Forage was born from the idea that talent is everywhere, but equal access to opportunity is not. Forage’s mission is to get motivated students into great jobs. Forage invented job simulations, bite-sized five-to-six-hour courses that replicate tasks at top companies to help students of all backgrounds gain the skills they need to be successful when applying for and working there.
2. All programs on Forage are free to students, and companies are the ones paying to have their own programs. Why would they want to do that?
Forage’s virtual programs have always been free for students, as our partner companies are committed to ensuring equity, diversity, and access to opportunity for everyone. Companies enjoy using Forage because it allows them to show students what working at their company is really like, and it enables them to reach more students who they may not get to interact with at in-person events.
3. Thomas Brunskill, CEO of Forage, tells in an interview that he jumped from job to job trying to find something he would at least tolerate early in his career, until he thought there should be better ways to explore careers. How can having a feel of a future career path impact the experience of a college student?
Having a feel for a future career path can help give students a purpose and a better sense of where their life is headed after graduation. Choosing a career or major is an extremely overwhelming process for students. Forage’s programs can help alleviate that anxiety by providing a window into different jobs at top companies so that students can make more informed decisions about their careers.
4. Forage can be used at any time by just creating an account, but LSUA is also
implementing some of the courses into their coursework as assignments if they fit the class goals. What is the added value of having a virtual experience as part of a class, without mentioning that you earn a certificate?
The added value of having a virtual experience as part of a class is that students can learn real-world skills specific to a job in a unique way that supplements their academic experience. Here, students can develop confidence in their skills and better understand how they can apply them in a career upon graduation. Exposing students to Forage programs in the classroom empowers students to problem-solve, demonstrate the skills they've learned, and preview what a certain career may look like. Forage also has programs designed to help students with personal and professional development, such as resume building and interview prep, which will equip students with skills they need outside the classroom.
5. Lastly, I would say that Forage does solve a common issue in the way companies hire, that is “hire, then train” instead of “train, then hire”. What should students and faculty know about preskilling?
Preskilling is the process of gaining workplace-specific skills for future employment. Through Forage's job simulations, students can preskill to be better prepared to enter the workforce. Additionally, candidates who preskill can feel empowered to commit to their career path, because they've previewed their day-to-day role at a company and know the skills they need to succeed.
Forage is currently being introduced into some classes at LSUA as part of assignments to put your skills into practice in a more realistic way, but if you would like to explore what Forage can offer you can explore the catalog here