It is hard for young people to progress into the world of meaningful work. We know that young people struggle to find out about learning opportunities, on-the-job training and full/part time employment during their studies. It is also really hard for young people, and their support networks, to find out about local and national opportunities for volunteering and work experience.
The career’s advice service in Cambridgeshire is now a shadow of its former self and there is a lack of proper advice for teenagers navigating options and opportunities as they reach the end of their full-time school life. There are differing sources of information such as college website, providers of education opportunities and job sites such as “Total Jobs”. However, they are difficult to locate and then navigate round, especially if you are not sure what it is you want to do. Cambridgeshire County Council has a website which includes lots of varied information for young people called Youthoria – which is a legacy website and needs to be retired. The pages that are used the most on that site from within Cambridgeshire are the job pages, and these are kept up to date manually by people within the Youth Service.
Hertfordshire also has a website for young people, which helps them find employment but we feel it is a good opportunity to see how we can creatively discover and design a solution that better meets the needs of young people – with them. There is some good information and help on the gov.uk website about apprenticeships and careers. The information is matter-of-fact and useful if you know what you are looking for. There is a lack of information in Cambridgeshire about what opportunities there are for young people, especially in the more rural areas of the county.
In order to find out more about this problem and this opportunity, we would engage widely with the local youth service, schools, further education providers, 3rd sector organisations and employers as well as young people themselves. We want to create a co-production group made up of the stakeholders mentioned, professionals and young people. We feel this project gives us an opportunity to work better with the young people in our counties and co-design possible solutions with them that work for them.
Our team spent time with young people in Cambridgeshire during 10 workshops over the summer in 2019. Here is their beautiful work: https://public.huddle.com/a/XOGJMnN/index.html
Here are the challenges they told us about when it comes to employment and learning opportunities: https://public.huddle.com/a/VdlLoJG/index.html
Here is the summary presentation for our preliminary discovery work: https://public.huddle.com/a/awqopVd/index.html
We looked into what Youthoria is currently being used for and by who. The main conclusion was that most of the content on Youthoria is being provided by many other websites and resources. The one function it has that gives the young residents of Cambridgeshire real value, was the jobs opportunities section – which is why we would like to do more work to understand what that could look like for young people in this day and age.
Based on the discovery work already undertaken, we have established the following hypotheses:
Assumptions / Hypotheses:
- There is a lack of opportunity for small local employers to advertise their recruitment needs and employment opportunities in a digital way.
Within Cambridgeshire there are currently two employees from the Youth and Community Team who travel around the county and engage with local employers to help find local employment opportunities for young people in Cambridgeshire. These employers cannot afford to promote or circulate their recruitment needs and there currently isn’t an online platform to support independent, community employers to promote part-time work (e.g. Saturday jobs). Roles which are ideally suited to young people, looking to obtain work experience and begin to earn their own money.
- Young people around the ages of 16 – 19 are unaware of what opportunities are available to them locally e.g. apprenticeships, education, job opportunities, work experience, voluntary roles etc.
We conducted workshops with various groups of young people across Cambridgeshire & Peterborough who participate in the National Citizens Service group. We obtain a huge amount of insight from these sessions, regarding their needs, concerns and troubles as young people. The two most common insights we found were regarding issues with mental health/wellbeing and job opportunities. Young people highlighted that they were unaware of what was available locally and that it was important that this was addressed to help them get jobs and develop their skills.
- Young people find it hard to find part-time work
Having conducted research on a Cambridgeshire hosted website for young people called ‘Youthoria’, it was highly apparent that job hunting and employment was the main use of the site. The website is diverse and provides information and advice on a broad range of topics but the most visited page was about job hunting and local employment according to Google Analytics. Further to this, the Youthoria platform also provides a service called “Ask Ali”, where you can get information and advice from an employee in the Youth and Community Service, since this service went live in 2007 the most commonly asked topic was about employment opportunities.
- Young people find it hard to find relevant work experience / voluntary positions, current channels are unclear
These workshops highlighted to us that one of the biggest concerns young people face is about not knowing the pathways to follow to obtain work experience / voluntary roles based on their career aspirations. Many young people said there are huge pressures coming from schools to perform in order to be successful long term. They felt that they needed to be mindful of the career path they want to pursue and think about getting experience or showing their interest in a particular industry/field. However, these young people said they are aware they need to be obtaining relevant experience but don’t know how to arrange this or where to look, especially at a local level.
- Young people are unsure of how to create CVs, write covering letters, apply for jobs and prepare for subsequent interviews.
During the workshops, we asked young people to design apps that they would find useful based on the topic of employment. We found that a lot of emphasis was placed around the creation of CVs and a place where young people would record their achievements as a reminder for when they need to complete job applications. Many of the features included CV generators, videos about writing cover letters and preparing for interviews. This is an interesting insight as it shows that this is a common problem among young people, which we hope to explore the opportunities in addressing.
Traditionally this type of work would have been undertaken by careers advisors and the Connexions Service to help guide young people to think about their futures and the steps they should be taking. They’d have a thorough understanding of local opportunities and would be able to support with the process of writing CVs and applying for jobs. As these roles/organisations no longer exist within schools, there remains a void which has been left as clearly young people do not feel confident or aware of pathways into the working world.
- How can we increase employment opportunities for young people with learning disabilities (LD) and children in care.
It is known that helping vulnerable groups seek gainful employment is a challenge, there is a lack of understanding and support to help these key groups enter the working work. This is especially apparent for young people with LD.
Current/Existing – tools, products and projects:
In terms of what is currently available to help young people to seek employment or find information about work experience, apprenticeships and voluntary roles, we have outlined below:
- National Careers Service
- National Citizens Service
- Barclays Life Skills barclayslifeskills.com/young-people/blog/how-to-use-the-lifeskills-cv-builder
- Gov UK – Further education and skills
None of these products actively target young people and understand their needs. They do not actively engage or provide tools to enable young people to seek employment. These sites are particularly poor for people with learning disabilities..
- Shadowing – with Youth Workers to engage with young people and to obtain an understanding from youth professionals about their experience of helping young people deal with the topic of employment.
- Interviews – we will also look to understand the problem from the perspective of the employers/further education providers to obtain insight into how we should tackle the issue should we take the project forward to alpha phase to get a well rounded view of the issue. Further to this we will also engage with schools, parents and the voluntary sector to work out the most effective way to increase Youth employment across the board. This work will be supported by the two employees within Cambridgeshire who manage the relationship with employment to help increase youth participation and employment.
- Create a co-production group from people in each of those sectors (young people, youth workers, employers, education & voluntary), this will ensure we get insight from all key stakeholders and can help identify ways we can address this problem.
- Workshops / collaborative design/ideation sessions – These sessions will take with Young People and Youth Workers
- Design low fidelity prototypes – To test our findings with real users and iterate based on feedback, this will then help us focus in on the true problems and establish an understanding of whether to extend our discovery, pursue an alpha or stop entirely.
- Horizon scanning / desk research to understand how young people are currently supported in future planning to see what is available externally and how this can be incorporated to support youth opportunity.
Across council involvement:
- Working with partners we will prepare workshops collaboratively which we will then delivery across all localities involved. This will allow us to get a variety of insights and allow us to understand the needs of young people across the board.
- Working across locations allows us to understand the pain points from all partner authorities as well as the similarities and differences in each organisation.
- We will use virtual methods outlined later in this document to create a continual feedback and sharing loop, so we can truly collaborate and understand the real issues faced in regards to this issue.
- We will work in the open and in a transparent way so that all councils can actively contribute.
- Nationwide there are 792,000 young people (aged 16 to 24 years) in the UK who were not in education, employment or training from April to June 2019. This equates to 11.5% of all young people in the UK.
- Of these, 330,000 young people are actively looking for a job within the last four weeks. The remaining 462,000 were economically inactive.
Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire
- 3.3% of young people aged 16-17 in Cambridgeshire are NEET. This has increased by 0.1 percentage points over the last year.
- 3.4% of young people aged 16-17 in Hertfordshire are NEET.
- Although we don’t have figures for 18-19 year olds, we would endeavour to find them out in our discovery.
Discovery in to the needs of young people in Cambridgeshire found that 20.8% of them (78 people) had a need for additional information and advice on topics related to employment or training. Of these:
- 11.8% of young people found Job opportunities was a challenge they encountered and wanted to fix.
- 5.4% said careers was a challenge they’d like to tackle.
- 2.7% said work experience
- 0.9% mentioned apprenticeships
- NEETS have long-term negative consequences for both the individual and society as a whole. Nationally, the issues that affect young people who become NEET cost over £65,000 each in direct lifetime costs to public finances and £120,000 in wider lifetime costs to the economy and wider community.
- Considering each NEET has a direct lifetime cost of £65,000. Even if you don’t take into account 18 and 19 year olds, the small section of 16 and 17 year old data as shown above for Cambridgeshire. Lifetime costs for this proportion of age equates to £26million
- Nationally, NEETs cost £22m per week in Jobseekers Allowance, and £22-£133m per week in lost productivity
- A young person who experiences a period of NEET will, on average, lose up to £50,000 in earnings over their working life when compared to a peer who is never NEET.
- The cost of youth crime (including imprisonment of children and young people) is £23m a week – £1.2bn per year, while the cost of educational underachievement is estimated at £22bn per generation
- Many young people face a range of other issues, such as poor mental health, drug and alcohol misuse, and criminal or antisocial behaviour. These issues are compounded when a young person is not in education, employment or training (NEET), as this directly impacts on individual life chances.
LGSS is shared service organisation with three primary partners, we are therefore familiar with working with colleagues and partners on various sites and are acquainted with the tools best suited for this. There are a number of virtual and online tools which we wish to utilise to support the success and continual collaboration throughout the project.
For communication we will use:
- Local Gov Digital Slack – for instant communication and networking with other authorities
- Email – to keep a record of formally agreed decisions
- Whereby – for video conferencing and deeper discussion
- Less frequent face to face meetings – to collaborate and run workshops,research sharing and ideation sessions.
- Blogging using WeekNotes or Pipeline – allowing us to share our experiences publically for other members of local government to engage with us or adopt elements of the approach we will follow throughout the alpha phase.
For project management / tracking progress we will use:
- Trello – to create a project backlog and management the steps involved during each stage of the prototype production and testing
- GitHub – To share any code, documentation as a result of any prototyped ideas, helping to create open, reusable assets or software.
- Harvest – To track the time and cost spent on the project, to provide an insight into the true cost of the project.
- Huddle – a document collaboration and sharing space.
- Miro Board – For virtual workshops and a place to collect insights and ideas.
- Local Gov Research Library for sharing outputs and gathering insights from projects of a similar nature
We are dedicated to working in a transparent and open away, we have an existing blog section as part of corporate site. We use this area to share thought provoking messages and insights we have as we work through our agile projects. www.lgss-digital.co.uk/blo
LGSS Digital staff have attended multiple GDS academy courses and work in an environment where we actively practice human centred design and agile. We are always open to learning more and will take on any additional training that is relevant and helpful to this project. Training may also be required for our project partners on research, discovery, agile and the user-centric approach we actively adopt within our team. Time/resource could also be allocated to send partners on GDS courses such as Agile Awareness, or User Centred Design which employees within LGSS Digital have attended previously.
Partners enrolling on these courses would not only increase their knowledge and skill set, but it would also help them to champion User-Centred Design and Agile methodologies. All transferable skills and learning which they can use in projects they encounter in the future.
Although we hope to develop our solution in-house making use of the talent and skills available within our team, we are open to the possibility that we may need assistance and need to access the open market to produce a special supplier as we progress through the alpha phase.