The LMI Onion gets sliced – a follow up to the #jobhack Cabinet Office Event

Published on 5 Jan, 2016

Or alternatively 'Job information made available to young people at street level'

As explored in my previous post The LMI Onion is a location sensitive app that pushes entry level employment opportunities to mobile devices conceived of as being used by 18-24 year olds struggling to get a foothold in the world of work. While job search by location is nothing new, this takes the concept further making the entry level job opportunities clearer at street level without searching. The Onion metaphor comes in as the app treats the entry level job as the first layer of the information, with shortcuts to where the job can lead, local training opportunities in related fields, and potentially links to the emerging DebEd initiative (see below). To frame the debate my long-time colleague Simon Hamilton and I took the output of our time at the Cabinet Office Hackathon to the next stage with the wire frame below. In turn this idea grew out my own involvement as a stakeholder manager on the LMI for All Project set up by the UKCES. This post is an account of the thinking and next steps.

Since my last post on this I have teamed up with Mick Landmann of Vivid Digital and not for profit organisation Digital Education Brighton (DEB) that he co-founded in June 2011 to discuss how the LMI Onion could work in Brighton, a vibrant city with a growing economy and well developed digital community combined with higher than average youth unemployment. Like me Mick has spent many years in and around digital and e-learning scene as a producer and employer. Like me also Mick is a parent with keen interest in exploring the role of technology in resolving any disconnect between young people and employment opportunities.

In parallel Mick has also been growing the Brighton based DebEd initiative building interest from a broad array of professionals across the Brighton technology, education and employment landscape. This broad based initiative addresses the hitherto unrecognised value and talents of young people who may not have achieved academic success according to the current societal measures. It aims to open conversations between those employers reporting a perceived skills gap through the introduction of a form of accreditation that recognises young people’s wider attributes beyond academic prowess.

Initial Engagement – downloading the app and cutting through all other noise

We recognise that initial engagement in the LMI Onion app and encouraging young people to download it in the first instance is an interesting challenge. Discussion so far has included the obvious candidates such as social media campaigns and traditional channels such as posters, hoardings and encouragement of word of mouth. Whilst all of these are relevant none quite address the shift in thinking the app itself tries to address. We also recognise that conventional channels only play to the converted so a new approach to initial engagement that relies on a similar sensory landscape to that of the app itself is worth exploring. Essentially this means street level engagement in target environments that take advantage of the developments in sensor technology to prompt the first interactions with the app, igniting the curiosity of passers-by requiring their further involvement with the input of a simple text code. This would initiate a text requesting permission to download the app. In this way the relationship with the app can be established and the concept of proximity communicated at the same time.

The LMI (Labour Market Information) job opportunity data

Sourcing comprehensive entry level job opportunity data has become significantly easier with the advent of the LMI for All data set which draws its data from the Universal Jobmatch, a service offered through Government Gateway. The Monster Corporation operates the system on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website replacing the Jobcentre Plus job search tool and Employer Services Direct.

However, supporting young people into work is more involved than simply showing them an advertisement. Local support will also be paramount in which respect in the development of the LMI Onion we would propose to explore the relationship between private and public sectors by working with a local recruiter, and with a more narrowly defined data set. This will allow for a ring fenced pilot with learning used to inform how the larger LMI for All dataset can be best be deployed.

The Onion concept relies on presented entry level jobs being associated with both pathway information about future prospects beyond entry level role, associated training opportunities, and of potential DebEd data. This will require a detailed exploration of the data sets, assessment of the actual value of forming these cross linkages, and consideration of how the available data should be mapped.

Assessment of needs

Another component of the early work would be to survey the target community about needs perhaps in the form of short video case studies cast back out through the Talking Jobs platform to help explore the need and communicate the mission in the same sweep. While Talking Jobs was designed as an education tool it has already been successfully used to disseminate and capture research information around perceptions of climate change. Perhaps the same on a project closer to its own mission statement around helping young people make informed decisions.

Next steps

While a provisional budget is currently being drawn up for a feasibility study and pilot project, proof of concept can be outlined as having three broad areas of enquiry; understanding the needs, understanding the technology and data fit; defining the business case and the relationships needed to get there.

1. Feasibility study (3-6 months)

2. Pilot project (12-18 months)

So who wants to help?