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REVEALED: New digital services launched to combat youth unemployment

30 01.13
Nominet Trust

Today, the Government’s Youth and Community Engagement Champion, Shaun Bailey, will unveil three new digital services to help young people have a voice and overcome the vicious ‘no experience –no employment’ cycle, at an event at the Design Council.

The economic climate continues to be tough with the most recent figures revealing a high proportion of youth unemployment1. Amid these unstable conditions, the Design Council and social investor, Nominet Trust, today unveiled three new radical websites, which have been designed to help 16-24 year olds get on the career ladder by offering the chance to gain valuable skills experience.  

Instead of giving in to apathy, or the ‘bleak’ future predicted for them by so many, young people are now using these free, online services to improve their prospects and connect with employers.

Immediate successes of these projects, which started life in June 2012, include funding from a local council to progress recommendations from young people on neighbourhood community planning. Two young people have also become directors of the site they helped to develop. This flying start reflects the urgent need for workable, dynamic solutions which young people can use to find employment.

The three digital services being unveiled today are:

-       Discoverables ( a website that helps young people identify their strengths and then undertake tasks which help them to develop and demonstrate those strengths to potential employers

-       The Matter ( a newspaper run, produced and published entirely by young people. It gives young people the opportunity to tell the world what they think about problems that matter to them, whilst teaching them skills that are vital for employment

-      Step Up ( a web based service that takes users through their own marketing campaign to reveal their ambitions and connect them with people who can help them realise these goals. 

The three new digital services have been developed by the winners of the Working Well Challenge. This was an initiative which brought together creative designers with social entrepreneurs and tasked them to create digital solutions that ultimately help young people develop their talents, build confidence, strengthen CVs and make a living.

1 - The latest employment statistics can be found here:


Over the last six months, the Design Council and Nominet Trust have been supporting the three successful teams as they have worked to turn their ideas into reality. Each team has been working closely with young people to ensure the websites deliver real opportunities.

Arfah Farooq, one of the young people involved in the Discoverables pilot, commented:

"I've really enjoyed being part of the Working Well Challenge. I've had the chance to take a simple idea and develop it into this exciting new website. Right from the start, Discoverabels has been led by young people to create something that will solve a problem for other young people. It allows them to develop key strengths and skills to tell their story, their way.

Mat Hunter, Chief Design Officer at Design Council, said:

“16—24 year olds not in education, employment or training have become known as ‘NEET’s. This kind of jargon sends out a negative message and frames youth unemployment as a problem of economic policy. Instead, we should be focussing on how to improve the way young people secure the breaks they deserve.”

“This collaboration of up-and-coming young designers working with young people shows how user-centered design can make a real difference to issues in society. Here are some real practical solutions to complex problems that also stimulate opportunities for enterprise. The teams have done really well at turning a national problem on its head to create something positive.”

Annika Small, Chief Executive of Nominet Trust, commented:Annika Small2

“We are committed to exploring how digital technology can support young people to improve their lives and communities. The Working Well Challenge has been an important catalyst for new ideas around increasing young people’s employability. Through this programme, we have combined creative talent with the power of technology to deliver three compelling digital solutions that will help young people showcase their talents and find employment. These projects are a practical demonstration of how technology can be used in imaginative ways to address big social challenges.”

The three solutions in more detail:


Discoverables is a website that helps young people to identify their strengths and then undertake tasks which help them to develop and demonstrate those strengths to potential employers.

According to The Work Foundation, 71% of employers think soft skills need to be improved, but traditionally these are gained through employment - it’s a vicious cycle.

The website is a new way for young people to develop their skill set and ultimately improve employability.

The website is already attracting an average of 100 hits per day, with 122 young people registered and 30 active users. Two of the participants involved have become co-founding directors of Discoverables. Arfah Farooq, one of the young directors commented:

“Now that I'm also one of the co-founders I'm excited to take the service forward and develop it into a fully functional social enterprise and build partnerships with progressive organisations."

By the end of 2013 the Discoverables aim to have had 5,000 users and hope to be working with schools and youth organisations delivering training programmes.


The Matter

The Matter is a newspaper, run, produced and published entirely by young people. The website acts as a project management tool to support young people in creating the newspaper, between meetings with the team where they receive face-to-face advice.

Each edition leads on their public response to a question asked by government or a business and submitted to The Matter.

The Matter has already created and published its first newspaper with six young people. The theme of the first issue was to investigate how young people’s voices can be heard in the Forth neighbourhood community planning process.

One of the young people proposed a ‘reverse consultation’ – a new kind of planning meeting to engage young people. Instead of the planning process consulting young people and the community, young people and the community consult the planning process. This is a debate forum chaired by young people who set the agenda themselves, attended by Forth Neighbourhood Community Planners who sit in the audience and wait to speak, like young people do at their meetings.

This idea has been taken on by the Council and is getting fast tracked through the community grant process to fund future meetings. £500 for a second print run of the newspaper has also been promised.

The Matter aims to publish five more newspapers by the end of 2013. It also plans to develop the website so it can support several teams of young people in creating newspapers at once.


Step Up

Step Up is a web based service that takes users through their own marketing campaign to reveal their ambitions and connect them with people who can help them realise these goals.

It gives young people the advice and inspiration they need to create a personal marketing campaign and nudges them to promote their campaign to people that might be able to help. It suggests tasks that can build their confidence.

For example, Matt Dunn was one of the participants that piloted Step Up. Matt wants to work in advertising. He has been looking for work for some time but has not been successful. However, since setting up his own personal marketing campaign on Step Up, he has managed to get in touch with the creative director of a global advertising agency, and has been offered temporary work. Matt’s also attracted the attention of three different agencies and received some great feedback. He was even tweeted 281 times and had his campaign shared by 623 people. Of course, Matt was delighted about this progress and said:

"This campaign has been really exciting and getting a chance to get in touch with David Trott has been incredible. My first Step Up campaign has been called '21 Briefs, 21 days' and I'm looking to do another one once I've followed up with all the opportunities I have received. I'm damn excited!"

Step Up piloted the website with seven young people and another eight have already started working on their campaigns. Step Up aims to take 500 more through the campaign experience by the end of the year.

All the teams are looking for partnership opportunities and investment to take them to the next level.