PeopleBench is a Human Resources SaaS solution for the primary and secondary school sector which has achieved significant traction already in the Australian domestic market. The company was recently awarded $659,300 in matched funding as a successful recipient of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme Accelerating Commercialisation grant.
Using novel technology and processes, PeopleBench helps school leaders address the education workforce issues by harvesting workforce data; measuring workforce resilience, climate and culture; and addressing the underlying challenges with an evidence-informed workforce strategy.
The Accelerating Commercialisation investment supports PeopleBench to redevelop its existing platform and undertake a US market pilot.
A solution for acute pain in the US public education sector
So how bad is it? According to one respected US sector leader: “This is not a crisis, this is a hair burning, towering inferno.” Australians will be aware of the horrific gun violence in primary and secondary schools, however I learnt that even mid-level teachers may earn little more than those “pumping gas”. COVID has made a bad situation worse, aggravating issues of supply and turnover. (There are 567,000 less educators in America’s public schools than there were before the pandemic and a record low 0.57 hires for every open position.) Stress, burnout and fatigue affect the remaining workforce who may have been ill, who have been backfilling empty positions, and whose mental health has suffered from the politicisation of COVID. PeopleBench offers a novel and welcome solution to assist these intense problems experienced by the US public school sector.
A compelling mission, female founder and management team
The company’s mission is to transform education by building better school workforces for the benefit of students. The team genuinely believe that they can make a difference and I challenge anyone not to be inspired by Founder and CEO Fleur Johnston and her highly qualified and experienced team. Intellectual rigour, and gracious determination matched with a deep belief in the company and its purpose, have underpinned their success to date. Fleur has built support with a committed network of influential leaders in the US, who are proactively advocating and championing PeopleBench in the sector across the country.
Significant and immediate market opportunity
The market opportunity is significant and immediate, fuelled by $122 billion of federal school funding committed under ESSR III American Relief Plan. There are 130,930 schools in the US. PeopleBench has identified a $1.4 billion addressable market of schools that will be fully funded through the ESSR federal stimulus package. It’s a market that is global and growing rapidly: Holon IQ has predicted the size of global education and training sector to reach $7 trillion a year by 2025. In 2022 nearly $300 billion of that expenditure will be directed towards education technology, across hardware, software and services.
These are just a few highlights of this project. In a market where reputation and quality are paramount, PeopleBench shines as a non-partisan solution whose genesis and identity are driven from rigorous, research-driven methodology.
Teachers play such a big role in our lives beyond education – at best, they inspire us, change lives, and they expand the boundaries of our potential. It’s been a privilege to work with PeopleBench team as they test their “best-in-class” Australian tools and technology for teacher wellbeing with the world.