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Ideas Cafe Connects Youth to Succeed in the World of Work

Emerging from the OpenIDEO concept YouthCafe, Barclays launched their own version named Ideas Cafe – a national UK event, simultaneously hosted in London, Coventry, Newcastle and Cheshire for their 500 Barclays Apprentices.

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A group of Barclays Apprentices at an Ideas Cafe event in early 2013, tweeted by #barclaysapprentice
During our OpenIDEO Youth Employment Challenge last year, we asked our global community to help answer the question How can we equip young people with the skills, information and opportunities to succeed in the world of work? Over the duration of the challenge, 353 Inspirations and 149 Concepts were submitted – from which 6 winners were announced.
The winners were selected by a switched-on expert panel with a significant push to consider concepts which might be implemented in a timely manner. Based on this the YouthCafe idea, proposed by Open IDEO's former Design and Development Lead Haiyan Zhang, was seen as having such potential.
Haiyan prototyped her concept in London during the challenge Evaluation phase – by getting out there and beginning to transform her idea into action through holding a local meetup. She had a go at hosting a mini-workshop for young people heading into the workforce and invited inspirational speakers to join them at her London YouthCafe event. This helped shape learnings for iterating the idea.
Just three months later, our challenge sponsors Barclays, launched their own version of YouthCafe. They renamed the concept as the Ideas Cafe – a national UK event, simultaneously hosted in London, Coventry, Newcastle and Cheshire for their 500 Barclays Apprentices. These apprentices are part of their wider Barclays Bridges to Work initiative.
Hosted by Barclays Retail Chief Executive Ashok Vaswani in January 2013, all 500 Barclays apprentices were invited to take part in what was described as The Big Apprentice Conversation. The Ideas Cafe format was used to trigger discussions about what the Barclays Apprentices might do to connect with and inspire their friends and communities.
IDEO's Lydia Howland attended the session in London and was completely overwhelmed by the energy and enthusiasm of the young people involved: "There were so many inspiring people there that it would be hard to single out anyone in particular, but the story of Constance – a young woman from Uganda who had been turned down for job after job before finally being given an apprenticeship by Barclays – was one of the most moving and uplifting stories of the day. She brought the house down!"
Ashok Vaswani told the apprentices "there's no limit to how far you can go, or what you can achieve." Antony Jenkins, Group Chief Executive of Barclays, said he hoped to see a Barclays Apprentice take over his job one day.
We're not only thrilled that a concept developed by one of our OpenIDEO co-founders was picked as a winner – but also that Barclays, our challenge sponsor, was so quick to turn that idea into action by bringing young people together to succeed in the world of work.


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