In 2013, 2014 and 2015 we employed a cohort of eight 18-24 year olds as Junior Digital Producers (JDPs), with support from the Creative Employment Programme. Many had been unemployed for at least six months and experienced barriers to employment in the creative and digital industries.
During their employment with us, the JDPs learned in-demand digital skills from industry experts, such as coding, animation, filmmaking and design, whilst being supported to improve their confidence and professionalism. Their training took place within the context of a ‘real life’ project that aimed to produce a positive social impact by working with local people to respond to an identified need.
During the JDPs time with us, we facilitated introductions between them and industry employers, so they could network, make new industry contacts and share their work. We also collaborated with local businesses, such as Horstmann, and this approach has benefits for all parties: young people experience a range of working environments, businesses are introduced to potential employees, and everyone explores new opportunities for training, product development and innovation.
Since leaving the programme, 88% of JDPs have found work or become self-employed. One JDP, Sammy Payne, went on to take part in the Disney Accelerator programme and co-found Open Bionics, which provides 3D printed robotic hands for amputees.
Several JDPs continue to work with us through our supported employment programme Eight, which helps young professionals secure their second job and explore self-employment and freelancing whilst working on paid commissions.
With thanks to Opposable Group for their support.
“Working as a JDP provided me with the experience of working in a team and good organisational skills, which my current employers were looking for.” (Joanna, Motion Graphics Editor, Aspect Film and Video)
“The programme gave me the confidence and courage to go into photography. It also gave me confidence in my ‘professional self.’” (Sarah, Studio Photography Assistant)
“The professional training and first hand experience…has given me a ground level entry in a very crowded and competitive job space.” (Max, Junior Web Developer)
“I learned that I wanted a career in web development, and KWMC gave me the skills, guidance and confidence I needed to pursue it.” (David, Freelance Web Developer)
The first group of JDPs – Andy, Baylea, Candice, David, Joanna, Max, Sammy and Thomas – worked on data project ‘Data Patchwork‘: as well as building a touring installation that collected feedback from the Knowle West community, they created a resource that others could use to harness the potential of gathering and visualising data in creative ways.
Following bespoke workshops in coding, animation and community engagement, the group began by designing an online survey that would collect information about residents’ perceptions of their community and their lifestyle choices.
In March 2014 they brought the survey to life in a 3D gaming room where residents could answer the questions by interacting with eight full-size pieces of cardboard furniture including a bookcase, TV set and grandfather clock. The objects were connected to sensors and laptop computers: when people moved and played with them, their answers to the survey questions were recorded. The JDPs then created an ‘Information Station’ where the data gathered was displayed and updated in real time.
They went on to write, design, code and animate the Data Toolkit, which is a step-by-step guide to gathering and visualising data and involving young people and trainees in the process. The Toolkit is intended for other arts organisations to use and adapt to suit their aims, budget and context.
Our second group of JDPs were Ali, Alice, Casey, Max, Matt, Naomi and Sarah. Their skills training took place through an ambitious research and film project that set out to explore why more teenagers were reporting to feeling socially isolated – and what could be done to tackle the issue.
The group received training in coding, filmmaking, web design, community engagement and research. Over a period of six months they interviewed 200 young people in schools and colleges and out on the streets, using a range of interactive surveying and data collection techniques. This included making a giant milk carton that doubled as a video diary booth, in a nod to the ‘Missing Child’ posters often found on the side of milk cartons.
The JDPs then created a series of data visualisations to represent their findings, and planned and filmed an interactive documentary called The Glowing Divide, which is housed on a website they built themselves.
The film follows three young people from South Bristol as they undertake a series of challenges and share their experiences of isolation. It had a profound impact on the participants: the three young people who shared their stories in the film all reported an increase in confidence since being involved. One commented: “I found being part of the documentary was absolutely amazing, I’m really happy I took part…I think my social confidence has improved a lot, I think I can talk to people a lot easier.”