If we want more innovation in employment support, we must take time to look sideways – to understand what others are doing, to take inspiration from across the field, to go out of our way to share both our successes and our failures. This core belief is what originally inspired us at Nesta, back in 2012, to create the Living Map of Jobs Innovators, a guide to some of the most exciting things going on in the world of employment support.
Three years later, we’ve relaunched the website as a tool for the sector to continue this journey. It is completely understandable that such change does not come quickly.
When we first launched the Living Map, there was widespread concern about unemployment, under-employment and youth unemployment, and the growth of insecure and low-paid work. We argued that existing models weren’t enough to tackle these problems, and that there was an acute need for innovation.
Today, some of those challenges (like youth unemployment and low pay) remain, while others are thankfully less pressing (like unemployment, which never reached the levels feared). And new priorities have come to the fore – the “low-pay-no-pay” cycle, the disability gap, inadequate support for people with long-term health conditions and lack of career progression to name a few.
The website has a great new look, a better user experience and loads of new innovators. You can browse, search, and filter by theme, beneficiary group or evidence level. So whether you’re looking for innovations addressing the future of work; innovations helping people in rural communities; or innovations that have a robust evidence base, you can find them with the click of a button.
We hope the Living Map will be a useful resource for people working in, and interested in, the employment sector in a number of ways.
Firstly, we want to see more sharing of good practice and innovation within the sector and across sectors, and the Living Map is our way of encouraging collaboration. The Living Map can help organisations work with one another, inform their own practice and ultimately increase their impact.
Secondly, we want people who are commissioning and referring people to services – Jobcentres, hospitals, prisons, local authorities, schools, charities, prime contract holders for example – to have a resource for finding innovative programmes..
Thirdly, we want to encourage greater collection and use of evidence. It’s essential today that we really understand the impact of what we’re doing, rather than relying on goodwill and gut feeling, and we hope to foster that culture by making clear where innovations sit on Nesta’s Standards of Evidence. (We’ve done this based on publicly available information, so please inform us if we’ve got something wrong!)
And finally, we want to uncover more great innovations, increasing their visibility and helping us understand where innovation isn’t happening. We can’t do that alone, though, so we’re inviting you to suggest your own innovations - you can do so through this quick form.
This Map is far from finished – it never will be – and we need your help to grow it. Take a look around the site, leave comments, share your experiences and get in touch with us. Your input will make the Living Map a vibrant, active community through which the sector as a whole can become more innovative and ultimately improve the experience of all who come into contact with the system.
Matt Stokes, Inclusive Economic Growth, Nesta