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YouthForce - a 'small project' job market for young people

Aimed as 16-24 year olds, the YouthForce could be an online platform where local businesses post up 'small projects' they are seeking help on. This could be something as simple as setting up a web page, or tutor employees about new technologies.

Photo of Haiyan Zhang
25 20

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While young people are job seeking, can we leverage their skills to create a new on-demand job market to support businesses who need 'small projects' completed?

Aimed as 16-24 year olds, the YouthForce could be an online platform where local businesses post up 'small projects' they are seeking help on. This could be something as simple as setting up a web page, or tutor employees about new technologies. Young people can take these up and gain experience as well as payment.

Jobs should be vetted to leverage professional skills, rather than temp or task-oriented.

This requires a lot of work to sign up partner companies (such as Barclays perhaps?) and other questions are things like how can we refresh the ecosystem as users find employment and leave to bigger better things?

How will your concept support young people as they transition into the world of work?

This platform offers young people the ability to exercise their 'professional skills' in small project-based work, rather than odd-jobs that might not lead to professional development.

What online or in-person components of your concept will best support this transition?

This is currently envisioned as an online platform.

My Virtual Team

Paul Reader - http://www.openideo.com/profiles/ubiquity/ Eric Kotonya - http://www.openideo.com/profiles/erickotonya/

25 comments

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Photo of Sophia Peterson
Team

Haiyan good work........... really nice writing.

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DeletedUser

This is a great idea and sounds similar to the business model of Catchafire, a skills-based volunteer social enterprise.

Here is a link to their website: http://www.catchafire.org/

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Photo of Karolle Rabarison
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Sasha, yes, I immediately thought of Catchafire as well. Catchafire also caters to established professionals though, and I like the idea on focusing on the young and unemployed.

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Photo of Paul Reader
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Karella - you're right that Catchafire seems to sponsor pro bono services by professionals (who would already have a decent income stream) to assist businesses who (one assumes) cannot afford to pay for those services. I am concerned that using unemployed in a similar context would ultimately amount to exploitation.
I'm sorry but I can't think of a gentler way of putting it.

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DeletedUser

Hi Karolle and Paul -- Thanks for sharing and making those distinctions.

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Photo of Karolle Rabarison
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Yeah, Paul, I'm definitely in the pro-remuneration camp.

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Photo of Eric Kotonya
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This concept is revolutionary: I think the game-changer here is the creation of an "on-demand job market".

Open jobs can be streamed online, and pulled off the jobs feed once they have been allocated or their delivery time window expires.

Plus the platform could be designed to support value-add benefits such as job delivery rating and virtual currency earnings.

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Photo of Paul Reader
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Can we explore what you mean by virtual currency earnings please Eric. One of the needs of young people transitioning to work is real remuneration with appropriate value for work performed.

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Photo of Haiyan Zhang
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Hi Eric & Paul, thanks for your comments. Really encouraged that you think this is something new.

I think it will need organisers who are passionate about the issues and making partnerships with local businesses. This may be the biggest hurdle.

I do also believe, philosophically, that work in terms of what one would get compensated for should be compensated accordingly. So perhaps this is more likely to be a money-based system.

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Photo of Paul Reader
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Perhaps there is a possibility of using James Moyer's incentive payment concept as a kick start process for longer term projects involving those who have been looking for work over extended periods.

The Australian unemployment system incorporates a range of supports for the unemployed including covering the costs of short courses (eg MYOB), purchase of protective clothing or essential tools. Whilst these are paid on behalf of the person seeking the work to overcome difficult capital expenses a similar payment scheme might be instituted to cover job or project orientation.

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Photo of Eric Kotonya
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The "virtual currency" refers to client-awarded satisfaction points for each job delivered. This feature adds per-job compensation as an incentive and differentiates this concept from volunteer networks.

Points earned could be redeemable within the network by using them to buy consulting services or specialist knowledge. For example, I could train a user on Java programming for 3 hours and pay for an hour of Spanish language lessons with "time dollars" earned. The reward system fosters reciprocal value and real-world personal experience growth.

If the virtual currency is transferable then third party trading mechanisms can be built to convert it into hard cash. Being a mostly peer-regulated currency, some controls would be needed to prevent abuse.

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Photo of Haiyan Zhang
Team

Hi Eric, coincidentally I have another concept on OpenIDEO I'm trying to get off the ground called Advisorful (http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/concepting/startbarter-a-barter-economy-for-startups/) and it started out life as a bartering scheme for web entrepreneurs to find out.

I did some research into barter exchanges for this project and it turned out there are some laws in the US and UK that label bartering as a commercial transaction which should be taxed.

In the US, this means the barter exchange service has to issue a tax form to the users for each transaction and the users should report it as tax.

Really interesting stuff. Made me want to steer clear of 'bartering' per se and think of some other form of reciprocation that didn't immediately call bartering to mind.

Still mulling over it! Would love to get your thoughts.

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Photo of Haiyan Zhang
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Hi Paul & Eric, I've also just added you to my Virtual Team. Thanks for your comments!

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Photo of Paul Reader
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Thanks Haiyan!

Bartering is taxed in Australia too, in an attempt to keep it out of the illegal cash economy. They tend not to chase the incidental stuff like if I help you with your tax return for free without expectation then later you mow my lawn: but anything formalised is taxed (and can be subject to GST/VAT).

When we were looking at that for the web entrepreneur challenge I did some research into Barter Card which, although international, is probably the most popular of the Australian bartering systems.

I also looked into the Brixton Pound, which is a local currency, restricted to a limited geographic area, only available for transactions between registered businesses and still subject to tax. Its advantage seems to be in encouraging local inter-trading

I don't think there is anything intrinsically wrong with bartering or token based remuneration but I suspect the tax implications are unavoidable (at least in USA, UK, Australia and probably Canada too).
Maybe someone from other parts of Europe can advise on those jurisdictions

The main advantage I can see to bartering is that access to capital/cash is not necessarily required (apart from the tax component). It constitutes a form of credit without interest.
I don't know much about incubators but perhaps the interchange of expertise during start-up can help entrepreneurs to leverage limited capital in other important directions.

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Photo of Eric Kotonya
Team

Thanks!

We could explore the possibility of solving the barter-tax issue by billing consulting clients 1$ per job per hour - this amount can be subject to taxation and the virtual credits earned treated like non-taxable "loyalty points". What do you think of this approach?


Check out the Education Time Bank idea on:
http://www.ideasproject.com/community/en/treasury/efa

I'll be glad to partner both openideo and later on ideasproject (once Nokia and UNESCO provide a schedule on the Education Time Bank implementation).

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DeletedUser

Hi Haiyan, this is an awesome idea. I think this can expand to the government sector. Due to fiscal crisis, many countries, especially in Europe, have downsized their government agencies. This could be a platform for young people to serve their country and learn important and meaningful skills. Hopefully, this will allow government agencies to innovate with young minds and continue to provide quality service to their citizens.

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Photo of Philip Man
Team

Hi Haiyan, really like this idea. It's a great way for young people to gain hands on 'experience'. Couple of builds... (1) Could we boost learning by designing a way to give constructive feedback? (2) Could we build in ways that young people could link up and work together as teams on bigger projects?

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Photo of Haiyan Zhang
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Hi Philip, Thanks for your fantastic feedback.

This gets me thinking if these jobs could form part of a larger program, like perhaps a 'virtual internship'.

It's interesting to think about!

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Photo of Karolle Rabarison
Team

In addition to feedback, how about a badge system? Companies highlight the skills essential for a particular project, and you earn badges for those skills when the project is completed. Badges are displayed on each user's profile and supplement the evaluation/feedback.

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Photo of Sabine Kuznik
Team

Hi Haiyan, great concept. I´d just like to share some thoughts which came to my mind.

- Can we integrate the employees of the companies joining? They can feel the benefit in getting to know future colleagues before they are hired. So they perceive the projects as recruiting activity. It would be a pity if they would perceive the young participants as rivals. (This happened with 1-Euro-Jobs in Germany in some branches of industry.)

- What about giving a perspective to the young people and to include success stories? Measuring the percentage of young people hired after a project or the fixed contracts resulting from the activities for example could motivate. The participants are motivated in finding a job and companies hiring get positive advertisement.

I´m curious how the concept will evolve!

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DeletedUser

I like the idea of letting businesses post small projects that they do not have time or focus on to execute.

I think the idea can be extended with a real life component alike the concept of Rising Generation Study by Brad Gill. Unemployed youth can subscribe to a project that fits their interest and skills. A group of unemployed start working on the project together coached by a mentor with experience in the topic of the project.

The win/wins are:
- Businesses get high quality input for their projects (and possible may want to pay for this)
- Businesses get a feel for which youth might fit their company needs (alike assesment centre)
- unemployed youth get experience with real work issues and thus can start building their portfolio
- unemployed get a sense of purpose since they deliver valuable contributions
- unemployed get insight in their own strengths/weaknesses because they are working on achieving a goal

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Photo of Haiyan Zhang
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Thanks for your comment Anita. Really great feedback.

In this case I think the question is what kind of projects these could be. For me, this is a toughie.

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DeletedUser

The biggest advantage that youth have is that they are part of a new generation that is not yet familiar for most companies.

This means that projects could be interesting for companies that target youth. By involving youth in creating a new product/service they have a much higher chance on succes.

For companies that do not target youth, projects could be about getting a fresh perspective from people with different and possibly more digital native background on their portfolio and how it could evolve in the future.

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DeletedUser

I just saw this! Similar, if not exactly what I just posted :-)

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Photo of Haiyan Zhang
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Hi Caroline, are you talking about Interactive & Virtual or Career Day--> Career Year?

I believe those concepts are both quite unique and pretty cool!