Not another jobsite …

A couple of weeks ago we took part in the latest NESTA/ODI open data challenge in Manchester, looking into ways of using open data to find people better jobs. The original brief was to “build products and services using open data which help people get better jobs or create new jobs.”. Our submission was based on finding people options in locations and industries they might not have considered as a match for their current skills.

Because of our status as a rural node, we’re very aware of the issues faced by people living outside traditional city economies. One of the biggest challenges facing young people in Devon is the lack of choice when it comes to careers. High house prices and cost of living mean you need to earn well if you want to make your home in the beautiful surroundings you grew up in – but career options that pay that sort of money only seem to be available to urban dwellers. Our young people expect to go away to university, then further away to find their first professional job. Those that stay end up working in traditional industries close to home that pay less well – agriculture, hospitality, retail.

While we want to find more people better jobs, we don’t want that to mean that we collect the data to tell them which city they should go to. We want to build an information source and an interface that tells people where the fulfilling and high status careers are in their own area, to help them make more informed choices about what skills to learn, which degree to study, and which careers to pursue.

We’re not just thinking about university students, either. What about people mid career, highly skilled, who want to relocate to an area like Devon? Is downsizing and downgrading their only option? Or could they bring their knowledge and experience to similar industries in the South West? We aim to provide a view of the data that helps them investigate their options.

Finally, we want to support business owners, policy makers and bodies like the LEPs who have decisions to make about where to invest time and money. Where are the skills clusters, the education centres, the active job seekers they need to make their plans a success?

Our idea is not another job site; it’s an information resource that uses open data to show job seekers where skills like theirs are in demand. More than that, it uses existing data differently to show industries and career options where their skills could be used, options they may not have considered. This article recently demonstrated how recruiters are beginning to look outside the traditional categories to find people with the right skills for IT jobs. We think this can be translated to many other industries and scenarios.

These are the datasets we’ll be using:

Pulling these together, we will show career options to app users and collect data on the options they found interesting, which we will use to add richer contextual data to an information source for investors.

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We had a great weekend, even though we didn’t get one of the three finalist places. It was an intense, energetic, supportive and joyful couple of days and we’re glad to have been a part of it. Special thanks to all the people who made it possible and were there to help us put a pitch together:

  • Briony Phillips of the ODI
  • Ed Parkes and Remi Van from NESTA
  • Our coaches: Gianfranco Cecconi, Philippa Rose and David Simoes-Brown.

… and a special shout out to the three finalists – BusStart, PiC and StreetSmart for three well thought out product ideas with potential for huge positive social impacts. We’ll be watching with interest to see how the challenge develops.

Posted in Updates.