Connecting Young People and Businesses

June 25, 2018
Laura Wareing

The YPLINKEDIN project is a collaboration between Blackbeard Design and Participation Works to explore ways to connect young people and businesses in Burnley, Lancashire. The project is seeking to understand career aspirations, skills and challenges of young people in Burnley, as well as the needs and challenges employers face when engaging with young people. The aim is to design something, most likely something digital that supports valuable interactions between the two groups.

This presents the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about exploring and designing solutions for complicated issues, involving many different people. This project is providing me with many ideas which are feeding into my design PhD at Lancaster University. A passion and interest for social and co-design attracted me to this project, as well as my experience with co-design diverse groups, including young people. The project is an excellent example of the use of design to support learning, skills and employment opportunities in the region, which makes it a good fit with my PhD programme, Transformation North West, focusing on the use of design to drive growth and prosperity in the North West of England ( 

We are now two months into the project and so far, I’ve been part of workshops and interviews at schools in Burnley, where young people have shared information on aspirations, skills, work experience and views on their hometown. What was most striking here was that most had little understanding of how to explore information on career options other than just looking online and if they could explain what their skills were, many were unsure of how they connected to possible jobs. Following this, I joined the team for a lively two days of defining the main motivations of the young people that had taken part. Profiles representing each young person were displayed around the room, alongside their responses from the workshop. Together, we worked around the room, discussing and debating the details to determine which of eight motivations from the ‘Octalysis Framework’ were the core drivers for those individuals. Overall, we found that ‘Social Influence and Relatedness’, motivated by the influence of other people and people or things they relate to and ‘Development and Accomplishment’ were the most common. Therefore, these motivations should be key ingredients in the design. Interestingly, social influence was a more common core driver for the those at the younger side of the age group, whereas the sixth formers tended to be more focused on development and accomplishment.

We have just had a fascinating visit to the Warburtons factory in Burnley, where we gained an understanding of a work experience day geared towards young people. I’m looking forward to the next stage of the process where we bring together businesses to discover their views and needs. I’m also interested to see how the insights and core motivations are transformed into a design solution.