Hacking my way to jobs innovation

Posted on November 17, 2015

Jane Bruce believes that young people have the answers to youth unemployment, so she's getting a bunch together to hack out a solution.

So I’m in the home straight of my two year stint on the Clore Social Leadership Programme and my final challenge is to produce a piece of practice-based research.

Turns out it’s a pretty tough ask – narrowing down to something doable but also relevant and useful to the sector. There are plenty of pluses though - how often do you get the opportunity to really think about a topic you’re passionate about and talk to loads of people about it?

Rather than focusing on the views of experts, I wanted my research to help hard to reach young people have their voices heard. I’m now mid-way through a project called Job Hack Scotland aimed at enabling young people with experience of unemployment to generate ideas about what an effective into-work service or enterprise should look like.

I’ve been working alongside a young woman with experience of long-term unemployment to interview young people who have been shut out of the jobs market. And we’re working towards running an all-day Job Hack Scotland event on 1 December in Glasgow.

The hack will be a chance for young people to offer their ideas in a fun, interactive environment as well as gain design and peer research skills. True to James Murphy’s philosophy that “the best way to complain is to make things”, we’ll aim to come up with some prototypes for new into-work services and enterprises by the end of the day.  

The project is motivated by my experiences as director of Venture Scotland where I was heavily influenced by vulnerable young people desperate to work but who were held back by an inflexible and judgemental system that works against them.

Their stories stay with me: “I want to try and work, but I want to build up my hours slowly because of my condition. I’m afraid to lose my benefits, what if I don’t cope?”

Or: “I want to volunteer but the JobCentre says it’s getting in the way of me job-searching”

And another: “I went to find a job but they just looked down on you like I was scum and told me ways I’d get sanctioned.”

The current system also does little to support smaller, more innovative providers within the voluntary and social enterprise sectors. It places limited value on personal development and volunteering opportunities that can transform an individual’s outlook and capacity to work.

The Scottish Government’s is currently deciding on the future of soon-to-be devolved employability programmes for long-term unemployed and disabled people, so there is a window of opportunity to influence at least part of the system.

So, if you’re passionate about supporting young people into work, please spread the word, encourage young folk to participate and come along too!

Take part in Job Hack Scotland on 1st December 2015

This blog was first published on Third Force News. It is part of a TFN series following her Fellowship journey. 


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Jane Bruce

Jane Bruce

Youth employment innovator

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