As I continue my voyage into discovering just why so many of my generation are still unemployed, I continue to look for ways to remedy this. According to a Word Foundation report from last year, titled Lost in Transition, 264,000 young people - meaning those under the age of 24 - are long term unemployed. That's 264,000 young people who have spent a year on Jobseeker's Allowance. 264,000 young people who find their confidence falling day by day and their dreams and aspirations dying.
Now, many will call these young people 'shirkers' or insist that they just don't want to work. A quick look at the new Discoverables (discoverabl.es) site, which isn't officially launched until January 30th 2013, tells a different story. Created and developed by Eugenie Teasley, founder of youth charity Spark and Mettle, Discoverables offers young people the opportunity to uncover, prove and improve their strengths and skills. The online talent platform is presented as an alternative to the traditional CV; it supports and guides those looking for work in developing and showcasing the range of skills that are not systematically taught in schools but that employers are increasingly demanding.
71% of employers think that these soft skills need to be increased within the workface, according to the 2012 report from the Work Foundation. These skills - ranging from collaboration to creativity - are rarely taught in a strategic way. The Discoverables platform fills the gap by offering young people the opportunity to take part in a range of challenges and gain points for completing them. Each challenge is linked to one of nine key 'strengths' such as creativity or positive emotions, or a work-focused soft skill such as developing a design mindset or collaboration. Each 'Discoverable' builds a profile around their responses, creating a vivid online portfolio. By exploring these talent showcases, employers
can easily select just the right type of person from this pool of passionate and ambitious young
Completing the challenges and gaining recognition for doing so encourages those with less confidence, and keeps those who have been looking for work for a long time keep their motivation level high. Young people get to see their talents shine, employers access the brightest soft skill stars, and can potentially build longer term relationships. Schools, youth groups and colleges can integrate participation into the services they offer.
Discoverables is currently in open beta and is encouraging potential employers, job seekers and interested partner organisations to sign up. More than 130 dynamic, motivated young people keen to showcase their personal and social experience are already using the platform. Several progressive enterprises including Innocent Drinks have already expressed their support for the site's approach.
But it's not only corporate Britain that likes the idea. 24-year-old Sophie West, from the West Midlands, has been hoping to break into the youth work sector for the last six months. She says: "Discoverables seems to be the first youth employment website that actually targets young people in its layout and style." It is a sentiment echoed by Carl Sealeaf, an unemployed 19 year old from Solihull. "What employers want nowadays are people with those creative and non-lateral thinking skills," he says. "Discoverables understands that, and gives you the chance to showcase those skills in something other than a generic CV. After numerous rejections, it's given me a reason to be outgoing and creative again."
Eugenie herself says, "CVs are such flat representations of job applicants and don't take soft skills into consideration. There is so much more that young people can bring to the workplace. With Discoverables we have created a platform where job seekers can highlight and showcase their strengths and skills, going beyond grades and qualifications." And by we, she not only means herself and Spark and Mettle. Discoverables itself was co-developed by young people; principally Arfah Farooq, 21, and Gianni Bolemole, 19.
There are, of course, other online options for those seeking work. But I've tried (nearly) all of them. None of them offer an adaptable approach. Rather than just a one-size-fits-all template, Discoverables twists and bends so that each profile is unique. So far, I'm a huge fan.