Australia-UK FTA helps Aussie social impact company, WithYouWithMe expand in the UK
25 May 2023
Australian startup WithYouWithMe (WYWM) is re-inventing the employment sector to help marginalised people – including veterans and neuro-divergent applicants – build a meaningful career in tech.
WYWM is a social impact company that helps organisations solve their digital skills shortages by identifying and growing talent in places others don’t look, whether it is under-represented groups in society or within their existing workforce.
Founded in Australia in 2015, the company expanded into Canada in 2020, before setting their sights on the United Kingdom, where they launched in January 2022.
WYWM quickly secured traction in the UK. It signed the UK’s Armed Forces Covenant with UK Defence People and Veterans to provide free digital skills training and job placements to UK veterans and their dependents.
To date, WYWM has more than 2,000 UK veterans on its platform. They leverage the company’s world-leading aptitude assessments, job matching and tech role-training capabilities.
Cia Kouparitsas, Chief Marketing Officer for WYWM says: ‘Since setting up in the UK just over a year ago, we have grown our local UK team to 100 staff across various sites to service some substantial client contracts. Given the speed at which we have grown, I would say the UK has the potential to become our most successful global market.’
She says the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement will support the company’s business growth: ‘As an Australian business with operations in the UK, we’ll benefit from the new visa provisions under the FTA that make intra-company transfers easier.
‘Our staff and leadership team regularly travel between Australia and the UK for extended periods to set up certain functions as we grow our business. The FTA gives us the flexibility and support we need.’
Australian officer reinvents veteran recruitment
WYWM is led by CEO Tom Larter, a former Captain in the Australian Army. Larter had a distinguished, 13-year military career, including service in Afghanistan. In 2017, he transitioned to the private sector and became one of the early leaders at WithYouWithMe, which is now among Asia-Pacific’s fastest growing tech companies.
‘We started off trying to solve underemployment in the veteran space,’ says Larter. ‘Our founder, Tom Moore, was a veteran who saw first-hand how our former comrades struggled with transition. They were often overlooked for roles in the corporate world because they didn’t have the right experience.
‘At the time there was significant demand for tech skills – which of course we’re still seeing today. We thought if we can make veterans technologists, they have a path to a fulfilling and future-proof career.’
WYWM decided that if the military can use aptitude testing, skills mapping and specialised training to get ordinary people doing extraordinary things, so too can other organisations. They created a technology platform – known as ‘Potential’ – that tests, maps, trains and deploys human assets.
Sir James Everard KCB CBE is a global advisor for WYWM and Former Deputy Allied Supreme Commander for NATO. He comments: ‘The untapped potential that veterans offer to industry is huge. Help them on that first step and they will never lose momentum or let you down.’
While WYWM started off supporting veterans, they soon realised they could help many more under-represented groups, and quickly expanded to assist neurodivergent individuals, youth refugees and women in tech.
WYWM’s model has proved so effective in supporting diverse individuals into tech careers that they soon had demand to apply the same approach to organisations’ internal workforces.
‘We’re aiming to solve under-employment at scale, by helping employers uncover and mobilise untapped potential and skills in their own workforce,’ says Larter.
The FTA supports growth in the UK
‘We’re excited about the benefits under the new FTA and what it means in terms of sharing innovations across both countries,’ says Kouparitsas. ‘The FTA doesn’t just provide increased flexibility for our staff to work in both countries. WYWM is a technology company, so we believe we will also benefit from the FTA’s Innovation Chapter.
‘The FTA enables the free flow of data and will make it easier for us to collaborate on innovations and insights across borders. This removes barriers for us and helps us expand in the UK market.
‘It also provides an opportunity for Australia and UK entities to work together closely on shared problems and creative solutions. This is particularly important as Australia and the UK are allies in the defence space.’
‘15,000 Futures Initiative’ spurs new partnerships in the UK
WYWM is currently running a major campaign called the ‘15,000 Futures Initiative.’ According to Kouparitsas the campaign is aimed at inspiring the UK's largest employers to support veterans into new work.
‘The 15,000 Futures initiative gained a lot of traction early-on, with leading organisations like Capita, Northrop Grumman, Atos, Fujitsu, Leonardo, SII and Leidos committing to hiring veterans into their open tech roles,’ she says.
‘In particular, we’ve forged a valuable strategic partnership with Capita PLC. They invest in our business but are now also our customer,’ says Kouparitsas.
Jon Lewis, CEO at Capita PLC says: ‘Competition for talent – in particular digital talent – is a strategically important issue for Capita, and our public and private sector clients. WYWM are helping to solve this issue by creating new pools of talent from diverse and under-employed communities, and by doing so creating significant social value.’
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