Exploring youth engagement in a digital age
Hi. My name is Johanne Gilroy and I’m Virtual Careers Service Manager for Prospects Services Ltd(www.prospects.co.uk). We are the largest national providers of information, advice and guidance careers services, and we work in twenty local authority areas; providing universal and targeted services (intensive support for young people with special needs, learning difficulties and other disadvantages). I would like to tell you about the virtual collaboration platform which we have developed to enable young people to access careers information, advice and guidance and how we would like to develop this to allow for much broader collaboration beyond careers.
Where did it come from?
It began in 2009 where we were asked by Milton Keynes Council to offer a virtual option for young people to access and engage with the Connexions service. This was in response to the fact there has always been a substantial proportion of young people who do not want to come into their local Connexions Centre for a range of reasons and the growing tendency for young people to go online to find out information and advice to meet their needs. This left us with a key question to address, namely, how to provide careers advice when, where and how young people
wanted it? Our answer was to develop a Virtual Connexions Centre (www.virtualconnexionsmk.co.uk) which took advantage of the availability of broadband, the popularity of 3d gaming, the proliferation of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The key features of the product included: enabling users to create an avatar; being accessible 24 x 7, anywhere with internet access; client-led interaction with expert support on standby; highlighting the ‘best of the web’; featuring local and national opportunities; using the latest popular technologies and having built in reporting and tracking.
Since 2009, we have also developed Virtual Connexions Centres for Bradford City Council(www.virtualconnexionsbradford.co.uk) and Barking and Dagenham Council (www.virtualstreetbase.info). In the development of the centre for Bradford, we worked closely with a group of young people with learning difficulties and disabilities to incorporate accessibility features, such as, text to speech, scalable text chat size, and a wheelchair based avatar.
Where is it now?
There have been two significant changes in the landscape since 2009. Firstly, the economic downturn and the impact it has had on the budgets of local authorities, and secondly, the development of an all age careers service for England and the onus on schools to provide IAG for their pupils. This raises key questions around how are schools to ensure access to impartial IAG for their pupils with no additional funding and what happens to the IAG for young people who are not in Education, Employment and Training? We are working on developing cost-effective online IAG delivery solutions for schools and local authorities left with the responsibility of providing IAG for NEET young people.
The key features of the platform are as follows:
Where do we want to take it?
We would like to broaden the scope of the product beyond careers to embrace any form of collaboration. This could include: meetings; presentations; conferences; seminars; training, the possibilities are endless.
See some examples of what is possible by visiting www.careers3d.com and entering as a guest.
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