YouRock is an employability skills tool for young people across Europe. Its mission is to give young people a level playing field in recruitment, by helping them to recognise and promote the latent business skills that they have, and to help them see ICT as a good career choice.

This Crowdfunding requestThis request is for the initial funds to establish the YouRock website, a social network with an employability purpose specifically for the under 25s in the UK and Europe. It will be complementary to LinkedIn, helping young people to bridge the gap while they build a career history. YouRock will encourage young people to use their existing online content creation activities as evidence of their latent skills and aptitudes. It will involve teachers and tutors in endorsing these skills to help develop a richer career networking profile for them.

I want to create the website in a voluntary hackathon with the best young programmers from across Europe in November. Your investment will pay for the costs of organising the hackathon including the travel and accomodation expenses for ten programmers. It will also pay for the website to be translated into five languages, the site registration, hosting fees, and website maintenance costs for the first year. If the crowdfunder target is exceeded, each additional £800 could pay for another language to be added.

Is it really needed?

There is a significant challenge with youth unemployment in Europe and UK. 94% of young people are online daily, and yet they often do not use online tools to become more employable or see ICT and science as a route to potential employment despite there being a skills shortage in this area. There are numerous challenges for young people in the early years of their careers, and there is a gap in the online career services, networks and advice provided for them. Young people avoid LinkedIn, the largest career networking site, with only 17% of under 25s in the US having a profile, citing that a lack of employment history would look weak on their profile.

“LinkedIn is not forgiving. This issue goes so deep I wouldn’t even know where to start.” Lydia M.

“Starting out on LinkedIn with a blank slate can be quite daunting.” David Johnson

YouRock specifically intends to help young people to become more employable, and motivate them to see technology not only as intrinsic to their employability, but also as a potential career opportunity.

Evidence of the employability challenge is that:

  • 94% of young people under 25 across EU are online daily. (Eurostat, 2012)
  • Only around 17% of under 25s in the US have a LinkedIn account. (Google, 2012)
  • Only 20% of 16-24s have “written a computer program” (Eurostat, 2011)
  • Only 59% have “created electronic presentations” (Eurostat, 2011)
  • LinkedIn average age is 44, with under 24s forming only 5% of its members (Pingdom, 2012)
  • There will be 900,000 unfilled ICT jobs in Europe by 2015 (EC, 2012)

The response: YouRock

YouRock aims to encourage young people to create an online public aspiration profile for themselves, with a personal statement of their career hopes. It will encourage them to use their online content creation activities as evidence of their latent business skills and aptitudes. It will give their online ‘social’ activities a purpose.

YouRock will be youthful, aspiring, empowering and disruptive. It will require a new understanding from the education sector that it has a role in ‘setting up’ young people after their education, by giving them a personal endorsement so that prospective employers will be able to make a more informed judgment about the person. A final aim of YouRock is to encourage young people to see the technology industry as a potential career path.

LinkedIn, the largest employment-focused online network is predominantly excluding young people. The average age is 44, and young people under 24 form only around 5% of its members (under 18s only 2%). This Google data is US only, but the Pingdom report is global, and supports the premise that young people don’t use LinkedIn. There are a number of articles online(see references below) where young people cite that a lack of employment history puts them off from joining LinkedIn, as their profiles would look weak. Young people feel inferior to others on LinkedIn, because the site is dominated by senior executives with long employment histories, large professional networks and numerous citations, recommendations and endorsements. It is not a level playing field, but it is where employers look for evidence when reviewing prospective employees.

So, YouRock fills a gap.  It is a social network with an employability purpose specifically for the under 25s in the UK and Europe. It anticipates that they will move from YouRock onto LinkedIn, potentially running two profiles in parallel, and linking between them. It will also encourage them to see all of their online content as their CV, and that they need to manage this, and that they could create content specifically for that purpose, and record it as evidence of their interests, skills and aptitudes (and that technology could be a career path for them). Finally, it will request the involvement of teachers and tutors to give young people citations that will help to recognize their skills and aptitudes, and build a more rounded profile. Higher education (another sector which struggles with candidate selection) and employers will benefit by having more structured selection evidence available to them.

There are a number of US sites that have a similar approach (https://www.firstjob.com, https://www.myedu.com and http://www.jobioz.com), all of which are entirely US focused, but do address the same challenge, give users the same motivation, and have some of the same features. However the US focus is dominant on all of them and so there is a clear gap for a European service.

Young Romanian completing Skillage in Craiova

Why me?

I have a long history of working with young people, and with community technology. I have identified there is a gap, a problem, and a solution that will help young people become more employable, and see the oppportunities that could be open to them. I have worked at a high level within UK and European community technology networks, but still require this initial funding boost to set the venture in motion. I have a full business plan for the venture and will be seeking further resources for its ongoing development once the initial platform is launched. I just need to start rolling the ball!

I have established a company in the UK with a European social remit.  It will start its journey by creating the prototype service during the hackathon in November. During 2014 it will launch as a full service across Europe.

Young people from Russia

More online sources about this challenge

Young People Hate LinkedIn”, March 2013, Successfulworkplace.com “LinkedIn doesn’t matter to the people who need it most”, April, 2013 Buzzfeed.com “Why aren’t more college students on LinkedIn” June, 2013, Myedu.com