Hack Event Review: Youth Unemployment in Cardiff

Last week PDR and Cardiff Council ran the SPIDERHACK event at Chapter in Cardiff as a part of the SPIDER Project (Supporting Public Service Innovation using Design in European Regions). Over two days teams of young people, businesses, third sector organisations and Cardiff Council worked with the support of designers and developers to design better ways for young people to make decisions about their future using existing data Cardiff Council has on the jobs market.


The two-day event was a huge success and every team worked extremely hard to develop fantastic service concepts and prototypes.

Who was the hack event for?

The term ‘NEETs’ describes a very broad range of young people and this event focused on helping 16 – 19 year olds make important decisions about their future. Young people of this age potentially have the most difficult decisions to make and the broadest range of choices available. How can web and mobile applications help young people decide whether to go to university, look for alternative training or and employment?

As well as the 16-24 year olds who attended the hack we wanted to bring the voice of young people in Cardiff into the room. We commissioned the following film a week before the event and the teams really took what the young people had to say about their experiences into their design process. Every app or web based prototype answered a genuine need and with further development and testing could provide extremely useful and valuable services to young people in Cardiff and beyond.

5 teams worked on new digital services for young people and the ideas were…

The First Course (WINNER)
The First Course encourages young people to pursue their deepest interests and realise their dreams by providing a set of tangible realistic options. Young people are given a ‘recipe for success’ based upon the skills, experience, hobbies and interests that they enter into the software. The result is a set of pathways both academic and vocational that the young person could follow in order to turn their dreams into a reality. The aim of the service is to provide people with a career path and stop them from bouncing between jobs they aren’t engaged in during later life. There is a focus on what young people are interested in rather than what they can do at that time (at a potentially younger age of 10 to 11 years).

View the demo here: www.recipetothrive.azurewebsites.net

A website that gives the user an insight into the current jobs market and identifies where future job opportunities lie. By using the available job market data on average pay, number of applicants for each position and how competitive certain sectors are you can get people to think about jobs they might not have before based on their likelihood of finding employment. These facts about the jobs market can also show employment trends in the different sectors and help people plan for future careers.

Spider Jobs
This solution focuses on recommendations and taps into the ‘informal jobs market’ of “who you know” and not just what you know. A common problem for young people is that they don’t have the experience required to get some jobs because there aren’t enough opportunities for them to gain that experience in the first place. Spider Jobs works on the grounds that recommendations are useful and important to employers when an individual is applying for a job. Through a Spider Jobs profile an applicant (young person) can ask someone they know e.g. past employer / colleague / teacher to give them a recommendation so that it gives them a better chance of getting the job if they have a lack of qualifications, previous experience and a potentially ‘weaker CV’. This system could also save businesses time as they can quickly access the network of recommendations around one individual.

View the demo here: www.shareourservices.org.uk

Share Our Skills
This service platform adds value to existing social networks and allows users to share their skills and make more of their connections. Share Our Skills aims to encourage peer-to-peer support and show that “every barrier is someone else’s skill”. The platform is based around collaboration on projects; where participants can either bring in their existing skills or take part to acquire new skills. For example, you can ‘create a project’ and post jobs or skills you require, like “Help! I need new shed built for my motor bike” and be matched with someone with the necessary skills. This digital noticeboard and skills matching community site/app allows young people to build up a portfolio of projects they have worked on and gain endorsements from other participants. Thereby it could provide them with more opportunities for paid work.

View the demo here: www.shareourservices.org.uk

This simple idea aims to show young people the opportunities open to them in Cardiff in just ‘3 clicks’. The ‘3-clicks’ directory aggregates all of the service providers and options for young people into one very easy to use interface/website. The first two clicks of the mouse narrow your options until you are left with a selection tailored to you what you are looking for (e.g. employment > apprenticeships), you can then hover over and read more about each service provider and opportunity before the third click takes you to the relevant third party website (e.g. BT: BT4ME.co.uk). Collating and narrowing down all of the options in this way should help the user navigate the extremely complex landscape of employment, training and education options and eliminates the process of individually searching for opportunities through a search engine.

View the demo here: www.3clicks.org.uk

What Next 
As I mentioned, the judges felt every app and idea that came out of the hack is worth developing further as they each offered genuine benefits to the target market. We will be working with the winning team: The First Course here at PDR to explore and design their concept through user research and testing. But there are many other ways each team could take their idea forward into a successful service or business. The following short case study is from Flip Yourself, an app and online system that allows young people to build up a portfolio and record of their soft skills, experience, and achievements to be used as evidence when they apply for jobs, shows what is possible after a Hack event if a team passionately believes in tackling this difficult social issue.

The Flip Yourself Story
“Flip Profiles is a portfolio platform for educators and youth organisations supporting young people’s development. Help young people easily capture and showcase their achievements on your programme…more information

Flip Yourself started as an idea for reducing youth offending rates that was submitted to a Social Innovation Camp. The Flip Yourself team identified that getting young people into work as the best way to do this.

After the SiCamp the team secured £3K of funding from UnLtd, which allowed them to conduct more thorough user research and dispel any of the assumptions they had made at the hack about what would work for the users of their service. They then obtained more funding from NESTA and realised they had formed a very good relationship with the Prince’s Trust who they worked with to further develop and test Flip Yourself.

Flip Yourself is 3 years old now and is just at the stage where it can become profitable. The team are now employed full time on Flip Yourself and have secured Nominet Trust funding that allows them to do this. Bruno Taylor brilliantly describes the journey his team and Flip Yourself have been on since the initial hack event on his blog.

A short video about the event;

For more information about this event, any of the ideas or the SPIDER Project please contact Chris Brooker on cbrooker@pdronline.co.uk or call +44 (0) 2920416681

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