Brum-style employment opps: mixing empty shops, networking and an app

Here’s a fascinating set of ideas about how to combine empty shops, networking and the power of digital technology to help people share skills and find others to work with.

It came to me courtesy of our crowdsourcing programme on behalf of the Nominet Trust, and Twitter. As explained earlier, Tim Davies and I are helping explore how digital technologies can support young people to engage socially and economically with their communities. This will help frame a later funding challenge.

As you’ll see Alastair Somerville picked up our call for ideas, via a tweet from James Grant.

Alastair then sent me a couple of documents that he developed following presentations and discussion at the recent Birmingham TEDx event  - and they are fascinating. I called Alastair and he agreed I could publish them.

One describes how empty shops could be used for meeting, learning, working, and the other is a concept for a phone app that would survey and profile people’s skills, and allow the data to be mapped locally.

The underlying idea is that the world is changing so fast it is difficult to train and educate people in ways that will slot them into jobs in offices and other workspaces. We need something much more flexible.

The established way of employing the unemployed is through Job Centres.

These places try to fit people to listed jobs. For people with little experience or specific knowledge, the process is dispiriting since it tries to rework the human to meet the task.

Perhaps, it would be better to reverse the situation.

Instead of offices that demand people come in and negotiate down their skills and interests to meet specific jobs and roles, maybe we can create places where people with shared knowledge and skills can meet up to show their capabilities and to work with others to make new types of jobs and businesses.

With Alastair’s permission I uploaded his documents to Slideshare, as you can see here. The TEDx Brum video link is here – with relevant content about 4.35. Alastair says that it was @poikos (Eleanor) discussion of Debrouillard¬†that really set him thinking.

I hope that we may get more from the group in Birmingham behind these ideas, and they will bring to the surface others from around the country. There’s now a couple of Twitter account for the ideas -¬†@SKILLxShop and @SKILLxShare – and we are talking about some online conferencing to take things forward.

It’s wonderful how open and generous people can be with their ideas in a crowd sourcing process … and that’s even before the funding challenge has started.

Our tag for tweets is #DTYE – digital technology youth employment

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