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Public Sector Innovation Conference – Part 3 (NEETS) November 25, 2008

Posted by Kevupnorth in Uncategorized.
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This final post was prompted by the excellent workshop facilitated by Dr Richard Williams, the Chief Executive of Rathbone, on Engaging 16 – 18 year old NEETS using innovative methods.  It was based on some interesting research carried out partly by Rathbone amongst NEETs that found, amongst other things:

  • That young people who are NEETs ARE motivated about the things we (as a society) think they should be motivated in
  • That NEETs feel alienated from mainstream education because of needs that are often very individual.
  • That there were SIGNIFICANT unmet learner support needs in the education system
  • The the casualisation of the labour market has impacted on NEETs trying to find and maintain employment.

Nothing rocket science based, but good to see quantifiable research backing up what community workers are saying.  During the discussion that followed, I raised the theory that the classroom is not in line with modern children’s linked up, social media world.   I ventured the opinion that, despite technology and social media being used in education, the basic model has remained the same.

While I found broad agreement, there were some who definitely disagreed.  They argued that classrooms have moved too far from the old style lecture and that classrooms are now far more participative.  This may be true, but I still stand by the idea that the classroom is based on the hierarchical model, as are most local authority services.  Services provide for you, in very much the way that a Web 1.0 webpage informed.  However, young people live in a Web 2+ world, of linked up information and constant collection, reflection, aggregation and presentation.  Services need to move, I argue, in line with that.

An example for me would be some of the stories that came through during the conference.  For example, an innovative idea at Lewisham Council allowed staff at all levels to bid for small amounts of capital.  Some street wardens bid for mobile devices, that allowed them to report issues such as broken street lights while on the move.  This is a very simple idea, but could have a fundamental difference.  They key is, that a person who moans about a street light can now report it directly via the street warden, who can report it instantly without a whole string of people and papers that would take weeks.  There must be many more ideas like that.

To conclude, I want to examine this post in relation to the last one.  As I went off on my technology tangent, as I’m prone to do, someone rightly pointed out to me that many young people are not connected to the net.  However, it seems, almost all have mobile phones.  This shows to me how careful we need to be in imposing online services, when mobile services are what is called for and the array of different tariffs and bolt -ons may isolate people from, say, net usage or some mobile applications.  In order that we don’t extend that digital divide, we need to look at linked up, web 3-Esq services – but with the option that doesn’t rely on the use of technology.

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