We arrived at the Impact Hub at 09:00 to tackle what challenges faced on day three in the Spaghetti Lab. The day started off a little grey, with some kind of transparent liquid falling from the sky (in Britain, who would have thought it!). Laura, Simon, Nick, and Tim started off the day recapping the yesterday’s efforts, and everyone still seemed invested and buzzing from the prototype that was drafted from the previous day.
With the walls in the lab covered in an array of colour, it was no mean feat for Chris and Dan to find room on the walls for the main focus of today which was……..“Empathy Maps”. Not sure what an Empathy Map is, please read on:
“An Empathy Map is one tool to help you synthesize your observations and draw out unexpected insights. UNPACK: Create a four quadrant layout on paper or a whiteboard Populate the map by taking note of the following four traits of your user as you review your notes, audio, and video from your fieldwork: Think & Feel, Say & Do, See, and Hear”
This would give us a chance to split into two teams, Laura and Tim headed out the DWP / Job Centre building on Broad Street to meet with Young People and get their point of view on the Work Experience that is currently provided by the DWP / Job Centre. Simon and Nick would venture out and schmooze with SME’s within Birmingham to get their perspective on Work Experience in the workplace.
Simon and Nick met with two SME’s: Vicky @ The Boiler House, and Jan @ Blue Tel Solutions. Both had quite a lot to say on the topic of work experience for Young People, and both were quite receptive to the idea of Young People being given the opportunity within their respective businesses. One of the main drawbacks to the idea of providing work experience to Young People within Birmingham, is the lack of framework for SME’s to provide an “Objective” to individual(s) should they be placed on work experience at an SME. Due to the corporate responsibility of big businesses to provide work experience, it seems to have been diluted down to nothing more than a tick-box exercise which can be a determent to a Young Persons aspirations should their first experience of work be a bad one.
Over at the DWP building, Laura and Tim were liaising with Young People at the Job Centre, and the Job Centre staff themselves. It was quickly evident that the Job Centre has a lot of targets to hit when it comes to providing work experience. Due to these targets, the Young People are feeling quite despondent with the system which is ultimately trying to help them. On the flip side of this, the Job Centre staff share similar grievances, as they are focused more on targets than building a rapport with the individual they are trying assist.
[Added 08/05] I would like to add here that although there are targets for work experience these have been set for good reasons, see the study Early impacts of work experience. The data, and the stories of those we spoke to, indicate that participating in work experience can increase confidence and build reference-able experience. Both of which are very useful when applying for work.
More importantly, even though those people who were looking for work more than once reported that they felt like they were “on the conveyor-belt” or “just filling a quota”, every single one of the Job Centre, council and DWP staff we spoke to were empathetic and even passionate about helping job seekers.
We all arrived back at The Lab (now joined by Stuart) to organise our Empathy Maps,and present back to everyone the points of view of the Young People and SME’s. As we started to dig a little deeper into the idea of what services our product would offer, with the use of: Jobs, Gain Creators, and Pain Relievers – it also became clear that the more we elaborate on our ideas, and drill down to a more granular level, the more we are understanding the use of each exercise, and its placement within the process of what we’re trying to achieve.
Whilst ideas were being thrown around, we had an unexpected guest arrive, the one, the only Mr Mark Rogers (CEO of Birmingham City Council). Mark was very interested in what we had been doing, and seemed very intrigued in what is going to be the end product by the end of the week – even going as far as possibly implementing our product should it be something tangible for all parties to invest in. Once Mark had left, we finished off getting down to the more explicit detail of our ideas.
We closed out the day with some reflection and feedback which seem to take everyone out of their comfort zone, however by the time the dust had settled, we were all ready for a big group hug.
Day 4 is Prototyping which sounds like it will be challenging but very rewarding at the same time.