Google/RSA Interactivism for Young People

Amidst acute concern for the welfare and future of young people classed as "NEET" in UK society, policymakers are eagerly searching for innovative approaches to improve their prospects. Although concerns have recently been raised about the negative role internet and social media can play in the lives of disengaged young people, there has been little to balance this account with illustrations of how it can help them reconnect with society and improve their life chances through education and employment.

Against this backdrop, the RSA, Google, FutureGov and Livity came together to launch a new 'Interactivism' Challenge, asking people of all backgrounds – software developers, young people, professional practitioners, teachers, policymakers and RSA Fellows – to put forward innovative ideas for how the internet and technology could support young people to find the work, training or education that is right for them. Please see the Discovery Framework report Finding Employment and Education for Young People for more information about the Challenge.

Those behind the best ideas were invited to a two-day intensive 'Hackathon' event in February where they were paired with designers, software developers and young people to develop them into working software prototypes. In total, over 100 people came along to the event to lend their assistance and be part of a Hack 'team'. To hear more from the participants please view the video below:

Having used the Hackathon to develop their ideas from concept to workable prototype, many of the teams decided to continue beyond the event by refining their website and/or applying for funding to take it to the next stage. Our partners at FutureGov put forward the following summary of how the teams got on.

Tracey Bleakey's idea is for a site that allows young people to build skills profiles. In response, it highlights the gaps in their experience or skills required for their desired career path and suggests actual work, education or training opportunities that will fill those gaps. The site has a number of functions, such as skills matching and hosting employer opportunity profiles.

The winners of the Interactivism are developing a proposal for how their idea will be executed. They are now investigating potential grant funding streams.

Lee Hazzard is proposing to build a Facebook app that helps young people break down their life goals into every day, manageable steps, before assigning them to a "GamePlanner" mentor who will provide support offline and through Facebook to help them meet their goals. The app will also feature functions such as CV writing and job notification (which could be controlled by Work Programme providers) and inspiration from role models.

GamePlan have secured two commercial clients, received funding from the Big Lottery Fund and are waiting to hear back from three more potential funders. They are also currently at the top of the leader board for Cisco's British Innovation Gateway Awards. GamePlan are still on the look-out for Facebook app developers, UX designers, organisations to help create public sector opportunities and members to join their advisory board.

Meet Market
Tom Tobia's idea is for an online and offline platform which creates a support network for young people to learn and develop entrepreneurial skills through launching micro-enterprises within the familiar context of street markets.

They are now well on their way to developing a prototype with some partners up north, and this pilot is planned to take place in May in both London and Manchester. Similar to a Hackathon, they will be testing their assumptions quickly and cheaply to see what they can discover before taking the next steps forward.

Terri Herb's idea is for a web application that helps young people identify the skills needed to reach their goals, and helps them to develop and demonstrate those skills by being able to take part in a variety of projects (including projects offered by employers). They can then use videos or other records of their participation in these projects to add to a mini-portfolio. Gaining feedback from people running projects will be an important part of the personal development process.

The OneUp team are working hard on writing some seed funding proposals to kick start their project. Team member, Laura Warrington, has taken over the management of things, as idea owner, Terri Hubert, focuses on her studies, but they, along with a cluster of others are devising a plan to fund their initial development.

Megan Clatworthy's idea is for an online space where young people, employers, educational providers and community organisations can network with one another. People can use the space to create 3D CVs, use careers advice webinars, post videos about job opportunities and much more. Young people can generate points for using the space, which can result in real-life opportunities including work experience, internships, courses and vouchers.

After some breaking apart and rebuilding during the hack event, #MeshDays have been working on their business plan and meeting with focus groups to start developing a pilot for the project. They have had some positive responses so far, and are eager to move forward and hold their first Mesh Day soon. To help get them on their way, they are looking for help to build their website (by mid-April), seed funding to start up the project, and advice on developing a sustainable commercial model.

Cloud Gaming
Mahmoud Fereydouni's idea is to create a virtual online tutor, where the computer gives intelligent advice based on a person's situation in life. This is presented as a game with challenges that need to be completed, with young people as the players.
Due to university commitments, Cloud Gaming's active idea is currently on hold. However, the idea and planning behind it are still in progress.

Annie Jackson, from the Bigger Idea Community, wants to create a website where CVs can be presented in an online and multimedia format, similar to the Facebook Timeline. The site would enable people to link to blogs they have written and to post other sections of their CV in a variety of formats, for example video. There would be an option to view the interactive CV as a chronological timeline or grouped into "education", "work experience", "skills", "interests" and "blogs/articles".

TreeVee is another idea currently put on hold due to university coursework, but idea owner Annie Jackson is keen to get stuck into the social innovation world. Once exams are finished, Annie is planning to start looking for organisations to support and take part in developing the online CV platform.

Chantal Barcelona is from the Bigger Idea Community and her idea is to use the usual "procrastination zones" of Facebook, YouTube and the like to create personality assessment tools to see what jobs a young person would be suited to - depending on how they reacted to various videos, for example.

The Slurker team are keen to take their idea forward, but before they do, they are looking to do a bit of background research around their rationale - testing whether or not using 'downtime' browsing to create better future work prospects is the right way forward. To help with this, they are looking for existing research on the subject and to talk with an expert in online behaviour.

link to Creative Gathering report PDFFinding Employment and Education Discovery Framework report

In order to help Challenge participants identify a new idea, the 'Discovery Framework' document Finding Employment and Education for Young People summarises some of what we know about the problem and opportunities facing young people, and what has already worked well in supporting them.