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Raise Your Flag

Raise Your Flag connects young people who are not going to college with meaningful career paths, companies that are hiring and jobs at each step of the path. Approx. 45% of students in US and Canada do not go to college after high school. Instead, they enter the workforce. These students leave school completely unaware of their options, unprepared for the transition and uninspired to take action. These students leave school hopeless. Raise Your Flag gives hope to work-bound students by arming them with everything they need to start a career path they're stoked about.

Photo of Ryan Porter
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Raise Your Flag is a web-based application that creates connections from where work-bound students are to where they want to be. 

Users use Raise Your Flag to explore opportunities for meaningful work that does not require a degree or diploma, collect the ones that are most interesting and build their own personal career path. They also discover what training and certification is required, where to get it, what companies are hiring and where the job opportunities are right now. 

Raise Your Flag will also help users discover their personal working preferences and the ability to acquire the most in-demand work skills.

Raise Your Flag closes the the giant gap between high school and meaningful work for an employer who recognizes the value of young workers. 

 

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

Young people (16-24) who did not attend college are given the same support that their college-bound counterparts are given. This results in a lowered youth-unemployment rate, higher young employee tenure and increased excitement for the school-to-work transition. Education benefits as they are now given a resource to help the overwhelming large population of students who do not pursue formal post-secondary education. Employers benefit as they are now connecting with young people who have identified an interest in their company, who are aware of the long-term career possibilities within their companies and who will stay with their companies longer.

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

The general idea of a career "pathway" exists in so few places online. The word "pathway" has somehow lost its tangible properties. What is an actual career pathway? Where is the data that supports career pathways? What pathways exist in which industries and within which specific companies? Raise Your Flag answers these questions. Raise Your Flag visually identifies career pathways from entry-level positions to management opportunities and beyond. Each pathway is built using labor market information, career databases, or social graph data. Employer sponsored career pathways are supplied directly by the sponsoring company. Raise Your Flag takes the somewhat abstract idea of a career pathway and turns it into a tangible, actionable process with clear entry points and clear line of promotion and advancement.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We are currently testing the market with Raise Your Flag and have a working application at www.raiseyourflag.com

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

We believe the OpenIDEO community can provide is with: 1. The true needs of our user base beyond static information and a growing database of opportunities. 2. The needs of the education community. What is it that we could do for education specifically to make sure they are getting career pathway information to as many students as possible. 3. The obstacles our users have to meaningful employment and the obstacles their parents, teachers and potential employers have in helping them.

The idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • Keen to prototype it, find partners and pursue implementation

26 comments

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Photo of Roshni Patel
Team

Like Melanie, below, I think it's great that you're focusing on youth that either a) doesn't believe college is the right path for them b) cannot afford to attend college or c) cannot get into college. With the rising costs of education in the U.S. especially, I've been seeing more and more articles and op-eds that debate "Should everyone strive to go to college?" A program like Raise Your Flag would be great to help teens and families make such a decision.

However, while the name of your initiative is fun and thought provoking, I would suggest changing it to directly convey what the program does (A Day in the Life, etc etc)

Photo of Hima Batavia
Team

Hey Ryan! I think you hit the nail on the head focusing on the concept of supporting young people with their "career paths." I'm wondering why you chose to target individuals who leave school, rather than unemployed youth as a whole (or even unemployed). I think most young people I know (including myself) could use support on understanding different pathways depending on their experience, skills, interests, lifestyle desires etc. I also think for those uneducated and perhaps unemployed, envisioning a "path" is a very powerful motivator to gaining fulfilling employment.

What have you learned from the prototype in terms of the features / content that users engage with the most?

Photo of Ryan Porter
Team

Hima, thanks for the comment :)

We chose young people not going to college, that also includes, much of the time, unemployed/underemployed youth.

Raise Your Flag is for non-degree career pathways. We phrase it as helping those not going to college because we want the point of intervention/assistance not to wait 3,4,5,6 years after they leave high school.

Young people need to know of these options early in their education in order to make the decisions that will be best for them.

As for understanding pathways based on experience, skills, lifestyle etc., we're on it ;) We'll be releasing something soon that addresses this head on.

The most surprising thing we've learned so far, is that most users explore based on the first step of a career path. This suggests that users are asking "what's in my reach now and where could it potentially lead?" as opposed to "one day I want to do this, I wonder how to get started?"

It's an interesting finding because we built RYF to be aspirational as much as it's to be a functional utility. We need to make sure that we're building a space where young people feel safe looking at what they really want to do and then figuring out how to get there.

Photo of Alison Gilbert
Team

Hi Ryan,

This is a great approach and I love the tone of the website; it really shows a lot of respect to the target audience--especially when so many of those young people are hearing lots of very strong opinions about college-to-career paths. It's telling young people that you can still be sharp, innovative, and confident in starting your career, that finding a job straight out of high school doesn't have to be anything "less."

And I love the mindset of looking at the end goal rather than the first step in the career path; it really changes the frame of reference away from "where can I get a job right now" and positions the job seeker to be thoughtful about that first entry-level job and where it can realistically lead them.

One of tricky aspects of the job search is understanding the language in the job description: what the titles really mean (Associate vs Assistant vs. Apprentice), sifting through the buzz words, and differentiating between the hard skills required and the skills that seem to show up on every job description. And identifying those skills in yourself. With someone who recently left high school as the end user, it may be helpful to consider key words and skills that may not be immediately obvious as job skills. As an exaggerated example: someone who enjoyed chemistry lab in school may assume they'll never get to create chemical reactions if they don't go to college, but those skills could be used in other jobs: there's chemistry in cooking, or in mixing cement. A job seeker could check boxes for their interests and skills, and potential job opportunities that use those skills could be served up in a search.

You may already have some kind of key words and interests check-boxes on the platform--I explored your website but couldn't see how the process itself works without registering first. You mentioned you've been distributing the platform through schools, community employment agencies, and online. Is there an online example of a user's job search process, either as an infographic or video? That would be a great resource for people who find Raise Your Flag independently and are curious to learn more, support, or consider getting involved as an employer or advocate of the platform.

Photo of Melanie Kahl
Team

I applaud that you didn't jump on the one size fits all/college bandwagon that defines the current education dialogue. That's brave. If you are looking for research to support it:

From a policy and community perspective, look at Dr. James Rosenbaum. His ed policy book "Beyond College for All" gives a hard look at the the forgotten half of education/employment. He's a thoughtful guy.

http://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/faculty-experts/fellows/rosenbaum.html

Photo of Melanie Kahl
Team

Might be interesting to talk with the folks from SkillScout. http://www.skillscout.me

They help develop youth employment pathways by articulating very specific skills needed in the workforce and connecting them to jobs.

The original research for the project stemmed from an engagement with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation by innovation firm gravitytank for their New Options Project (https://twitter.com/NewOptions4work). Their project project (http://www.workforce.io) has transitioned to skill scout.

Photo of Eric Tucker
Team

Interesting option for the non college bound. Cool!

Photo of diane walton
Team

I will share this idea and website with friends in the workforce system.

Photo of priyanka botny
Team

Ryan,

I simply love the concept and the beautiful website. I was actually showing your websites to a few guests at home on the 47" TV screen. It was so interesting to learn the process for applicants.
I have also included you in my team for possible partnerships to work together. What do you think about it?

I have a few questions:
Have you worked with these people who are college dropouts or are looking for part-time opportunities?
Thanks!
Pri

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congratulations on making it to the Youth Employment Challenge Refinement list, Ryan. This idea is incredibly innovative in the way it tackles a specific group of young people who need focused support and provides a tool for them to not only get employment opportunities but creates a way to showcase their skills in the future. It’s exciting to see how far you have come with this idea. Great job. We were interested in learning about how your users will learn about this idea, insights on their feedback using it and insights from employers as to what would take for them to accept badges and certifications from this platform as valid. What are your next steps for the upcoming 6 months? How are you learning about your users? What is the main goal to be achieved within the next six months? How will you measure that this goal is successful? Check out more tips for Refinement: http://bit.ly/oi-refine

Photo of Ryan Porter
Team

Thanks! We appreciate the support and feedback from the entire community.

We're currently deploying Raise Your Flag to schools, employment agencies and organically online through search and social. The feedback so far has been feature requests for career discovery tools and matching tools (both of which we are working on). Employers want as many young people on the platform as possible.

Next steps are to add employers, secure funding and move continue down the road of acquiring users. We are leaning about users from a variety of touch points. Data from the site, informally in emails/site feedback and also from direct product testing with different young people.

The next six months will be spent getting to 50,000 active monthly users, launching discovery tools and prepare for credentialing.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Be sure to add all relevant info to your actual post. And you can now grab some challenge-specific Refinement tips here: http://ideo.pn/ye-refine-tips Looking forward to your agile refinement-moves to strengthen your idea for impact!

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Hey there Ryan. I'm a big fan of your idea :^) When you're ready, you'll see there are new submission form questions (hit Update Entry to view) where you can continue to add further details about your idea. We're amped to learn more about your progress and next steps.

Photo of Anna Spickard
Team

First, I love this idea and believe this Raise Your Flag will meet a significant need in society. You have certainly entered the market at an opportune time! I was also curious about why you have chosen to target people who have decided not to go to college, instead of including people with degrees, but I see that you answered that question below. I could see your project being incredibly useful for people who graduate with a higher degree, yet feel undirected and lack tangible skills for the workplace. However, I applaud you for defining what you ARE doing (targeting non-degree career pathways), and also defining what you are NOT doing (targeting post-grad career pathways). It is so important to remain true to your mission, and you are certainly doing that. I wonder how you plan to equip people with experience and skills once they have decided on a pathway? Do you have partners who will help with job training, etc? How do you plan to recruit users? Fantastic idea and model, keep up the amazing work!

Photo of Ryan Porter
Team

Anna, thanks for taking time to give your feedback. We agree about the need ;) Twinsies.

You are exactly right! We are partnering with employers for skill acquisition verification.

Users at the moment are coming organically, from social channels and from community programs. Now that the new school year is starting, we'll be promoting it directly to schools and also through my speaking engagements. It's also included in the book I wrote.

Photo of priyanka botny
Team

Hi Ryan,
I liked the name "Raise your flag". It easily helped me to catch your idea. We usually raise a flag to wave our idea or intrusion. Was this the true idea behind the name?
Well, have you identified these employers who are willing to hire these candidates? Also did you check out http://www.scitraining.com/ there are some affordable education degrees listed on the site.

I would like to team up with you for my idea - http://goo.gl/Ze39BN as I will be making job matches based on the daily activities/interests posted on social media. The job match is a challenge here as the title for the careerpaths are all demanding and required experience or education. A job that is relevant to the interests needs to be created for which employers need to start posting jobs that are meant for people who are available and ready to work with little skills.
It would be a great idea to partner our apps/sites to make job search easy!
What say?
Thanks,
Pri

Photo of Ryan Porter
Team

Priyanka, thanks for the comment. The idea behind the name is a declaration. Imagine landing on a planet for the first time or being the person to discover a new land, you claim it by raising your flag. That's the same idea. These students are heading off into unchartered territory and they have the opportunity to claim what they want.

We have identified some employers willing to hire them and are knocking on doors daily. Companies with a strong culture and established training programs are extremely excited about it.

I love the idea of matching candidates based on social media activities. It will be interesting to see how you distill applicable career information from these feeds and convert it into actionable career advice. It sounds super exciting.

I'd need more info on how you see things working. Shoot e an email.

Thanks,
Ryan

Photo of CYG consulting
Team

Are within one path different companies involved? Let's say, that a 16 year old person has some skills within electronics. Is this idea also using a skill set learned at company A and then transferring it to company B in advance, for example 6 month before. On the other hand, has this person also the chance to plan ahead, for example what could be after 6 month at company A?

Photo of Ryan Porter
Team

That's exactly right. The paths are being built upon as we speak to include transferable skill acquisition and credentialing.

As we build out the paths for specific companies, users will absolutely be able to see what their future within that particular company could look like (and even customize them!)

Hope that helps :)

Photo of CYG consulting
Team

Is it also transferable to get beyond company A and reach my dream position at company C ? For example, if I had to leave school, but have skills with electronics, that I could start at company A, as internship for example, to reach a specific level of competence. Within a set time frame, I could then reach company C and everything projected in advance and with your software - is this what you want to reach ? I think as well, that most of the problems arise, because companies are firing mostly unskilled workers, wether young or old. In my opinion, a great idea would be, that your are developing with this young peoples also paths, which are thinking of that probability and have different alternatives after company A in petto.

Photo of Ryan Porter
Team

Yes and yes. One of the features we are developing is a custom path aka "My Path". Users can essentially mix and match skills, steps, companies and destinations to make a custom career path. The path would of course would have data to back it up and verify if it's one that works.

So a user could come to the platform at any stage of their career, tell us their skills/training/experience/preferences, and we then help build a path based on that or give them options based on those things and allow them to arrange their own custom path.

Photo of Luisa Fernanda
Team

Ryan,
I love the innovative, entrepreneurial and specific nature of this idea. As you learn for this platform being out in the world you might want to check out some similar platforms in our ideas phase and maybe exchange ideas/ experiences with the contributors

https://openideo.com/challenge/youth-employment-pathways/ideas/delfee-the-online-one-stop-shop-for-youth-employment-support-initiatives

https://openideo.com/challenge/youth-employment-pathways/ideas/start-your-career-wherever-you-re-starting-from

I am also curious who you are distributing this platform with? Who are your users more specifically? How do they come across the site? What do they do when they are not on the platform? Do they all have continuos access to computers and internet? How are you working with employers?

Excited to learn more about how this idea develops, and what are your next steps,

Photo of Ryan Porter
Team

Luisa, thanks for the comment.
I checked out both of the initiatives you mentioned. Both look extremely solid and serve a great purpose.

We are distributing this platform through three main channels at the moment, directly through schools (my background and the background of team members makes this easier than usual), community employment agencies and organically online through a variety of methods.

The platform is still very young but we're seeing some great indicators of growth, traction and usage. We're excited to get our next few features shipped to make what we're doing more useful.

Love the dialogue taking place through these challenges!

Photo of Luisa Fernanda
Team

Ryan,
Great insights on your experience, thanks for sharing. Also feel free to share challenges you are facing or new directions you want to take. Our community is great at collaborating to tackle challenges , coming up with wild and innovative ideas for next steps.

We would love to learn what are the next steps for Raise Your Flag. Getting insights into your users' experience and their stories interacting with the platform will prepare us with the background to share thoughts and learn from your process,

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Sounds like you're doing some great work at Raise Your Flag, Ryan! We hope you'll trigger conversations here which will help strengthen the initiative and may even think of new directions you might consider through participating in this challenge.

We also hope that, with our focus on collaboration your experience in this domain, that you'll join conversations across the challenge to help others strengthen their ideas as well. Looking forward to seeing more of you on OpenIDEO...

Photo of Ryan Porter
Team

Meena, thank you! I also hope to trigger some conversations and brainstorm some new directions.

I'll be keeping an eye on the challenges and lend my voice where I think I may have some value/insight/questions to add. Looking forward to seeing what the community is capable of :)