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Thoughts from NESTA Creative Councils learning day.

Creative councils Spent an enjoyable and thought provoking day down at NESTA HQ last Monday in London, where we learned more about and discussed the challenges of workless-ness and alternative ways of improving the situation in the UK. Philip Colligan, Executive Director of the NESTA Public Services Innovation Labs kicked off the proceedings by talking initially about the assumptions made in the Creative Councils project (where the idea for GeniUS! York was born and developed).  Firstly that radical change is needed in the public sector, secondly that local government needs to be instrumental in part of the solution, thirdly that there is no point in reinventing innovations loads of times in isolation in local authorities and therefore good ideas need to be spread, and finally that you can codify the processes and methods to be able to share, scale and generally spread the learning and good ideas.  Through the first phase of the Creative Councils project and part of the second phase, tools, learning and experiences have been captured and have fed into 'Open Labs' which will be beta tested in the new year. Toolkits and techniques to help you innovate, from idea generation and refinement through development and then the challenge of putting ideas into practice are all explored in this exciting new resource.  I for one can't wait to get my hands on it! Dr Jo Casebourne, NESTA Director of Public And Social Innovation followed in with a discussion around more innovative economic models to tackle UK workless-ness, including sites such as 'Task Rabbit', Amazon's 'Mechanical Turk'or 'Slivers of Time' as alternatives to FTE. There is a lot of unmet demand in society and matching people in a peer to peer way can help. Jo currently feels there is a lack of direction or clear route for people to help themselves get into work, or for people wanting to employ others.  Too much emphasis on the Job Centre, which although it has it's place, is only one of many agencies offering support. Jo asks us how we think NESTA can intervene?  A quick 'tot up' on the back of an envelope at NESTA HQ guesstimated around £5bn currently being spent on this system, but it isn't joined up and doesn't allow for transition between worklessness and self employed status very well. So the question is how do we use alternative approaches to create and shape new markets, and to encourage self employment, using the learning from other countries approaches, e.g. in France, they have a more integrated approach to support move into self employment, as opposed to instant benefit cuts when someone starts. There is also a need to stimulate new markets for part time employment. In Belgium, there is a system of service vouchers, which provide work for unemployed people, and cover all of the administration and legals for them through apprenticeship agencies, allowing process to be easier. What are your thoughts around how to help people work smarter, in roles they like and can be stimulated by, to benefit the economy?  Further details of this and other ideas around reengineering the UKs jobs system can be found on the NESTA web site.
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