Has it ever been a more challenging time to be young? Those studying have been stuck in their bedrooms, ploughing through video lectures while unemployment figures paint a gloomy picture, and the forecasters warn that the future workforce will pay the price for the pandemic spending for many years to come.
Even before the catastrophe of 2020, technological advancement has been transforming the jobs market faster than many can keep pace with. It’s been increasingly hard for a young person – and even those who guide them – to know what roles are out there and where they forge a career in the future.
This is something that we work hard on at Nominet. In our social impact work on digital skills and careers, we’re trying to address the contradiction of a youth unemployment crisis and a digital economy facing a shortage of talent. In an ideal world, these two issues should cancel each other out. We want young people to be excited about the future and the positive impact technology can have on their lives. We want them to identify the opportunities available and know how to seize them.
We know from working with other organisations in this field that there are already a vast range of online courses and skills development platforms, many free to access and many offering qualifications. What we needed was something to spark the intrigue and excitement; we needed to motivate young people to start this journey. It was with those insights that we created THIS IS HOW.
Looking back at season one
We are one season in to this initiative, delivered in partnership with Livity. It’s a series of podcasts – backed up by a standalone website of resources – that dive into the roles that real people, often in the earlier stages of their careers are doing right now in digital industries. We ask all the questions a 15-23 year-old would ask: what do you do? How did you get into it? How can I make it happen for me?
When crunching the data from season one, we were encouraged. The podcasts were listened to almost 400,000 times (381,509) and the platform viewed 67,000 times. Many visitors did our quiz to hone in on the career options they might find the most interesting – and then 6,500 went on to look at the courses available to help them achieve their ambitions. We talked to some incredible people, from brands such as Mixcloud, TikTok, Depop and Warner Music.
Now is the time for season two – and we hope it’s going to be bigger and better than before. The digital industries and associated opportunities have moved on, so we have refined THIS IS HOW to focus more on the areas our research suggests are most relevant. We’re interviewing people who work in more flexible ways – freelancers and project-based contractors – as well as shifting a focus to the ‘makers’ that are becoming more critical to the digital companies, such as animators and designers.
Season two will also focus on the industries that young people get excited about and that, crucially, will be hiring: fashion, sport and gaming. This is part of conscious efforts to keep these podcasts and the accompanying resources relevant and useful in a changing world. If we’re not helping young people identify career paths and then making them happen, we’re not delivering.
New faces and stories
Zoe is a professional life coach who works with leaders in the creative industries as well as young people. She also hosts an advice show on Foundation FM and told us, “I wish I’d had resources like these available to me when I was younger! Choosing a career path always seemed like this huge, life-changing decision that, if I messed up, would ruin my whole future. That certainly isn’t true.” She recognises how much pressure young people are under today and how they are “trying to make career decisions without any real-world experience. THIS IS HOW is helping them to understand the vast scope of work available – and make the process fun and exciting too.”
Will has a background in creative strategy and currently works for SNKRS, hosting regular livestreams on Nike SNKRS Live. “I’m from Hackney, where examples of success were limited to a few roles – and crime,” he explains. “I also know what it’s like to not know what you want to do. Having passions in several different things can be confusing, but the world of digital allows you to navigate that and bring all your options into a central place. THIS IS HOW helps shed light on this and shares useful information. If we can help people to be in the driving seat of their lives, that would make me extremely happy.”
Following through on our aims
Instead of merely talking the talk about helping young people find work, we’re also doing it. Through Livity, we’ve hired young people to help us with the resourcing for the new season, from researching and writing content, to designing software for the platform. This is no ‘work experience opportunity’ but paid employment that serves a mutual benefit. We gain valuable insight into youth culture and the creativity of this inspiring generation to help us shape our resources, and they get the experience to add to their CV.
So, there you have it, many reasons to be excited about THIS IS HOW season two. We’re looking forward to seeing how it develops and hopefully inspiring many more young people to start their journey.
Find out more about THIS IS HOW and access the new podcasts as they drop on the website.