Business Plan September 2014

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1 Business Plan September 2014

2 Contents Introduction to the project... 3 The problem... 3 The solution Learning2.0gether... 3 The Learning 2.0gether Main Products... 5 Learning 2.0gether Training programme:... 5 E-learning Zone... 6 Online Skills Match Platform... 7 Sustainability of Products... 8 Training materials... 8 Project website... 8 E-Learning Zone... 8 Skills Match Platform... 8 Market Research Feedback from Learning 2.0gether Pilot Participants Competitors: SWOTT analysis Applications of Market Research How is the Skills Share Platform placed in the market? Options for continued funding Conclusion and Action Points Future Sustainability... 16

3 Introduction to the project The problem In the UK, 881,000 young people aged were unemployed between December 2013 and February 2014 Across Europe youth unemployment continues to rise. In Spain, 55% of young people are unemployed and in Italy 40%. In that period, the unemployment rate (the proportion of the economically active population who are unemployed) for year olds was 19.1% 32% of businesses in the UK are yet to develop a social media strategy Britain will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017 ** **A Social Digital Research Symposium led by the LSE, Ofcom and Tinder Foundation is attempting to address digital exclusion in the UK. The report estimates Britain will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017, if UK can t support that growth the skills gap in the digital marketing industry could end up costing the UK up to 2bn a year. Businesses must proactively seek out opportunities to collaborate to maximise the digital growth opportunity and harness the potential of the next generation. As digital natives, young people possess valuable skills that will be the future fuel of our economy, but not enough is being done to harness them. The solution Learning2.0gether Learning 2.0gether 1 is a pan European project that was created to improve employability of young unemployed people, whilst at the same time increase the digital skills and competencies of older workers (over 50) in Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SME s), with the aim of improving their competitiveness and effectiveness in terms of marketing. Learning 2.0gether has brought together an experienced consortium of partners, including Inova, a UK based consultancy with experience of managing European projects, a German public agency in digital literacy (MFG), a large UK based voluntary organisation (VAS), CLP who represent the Chamber of Commerce in Genoa, Italy and UPTA a representative of sole traders in Spain. We know young people often have the digital skills businesses need but don t necessarily know how to transfer these skills into a business environment and don t have the training skills needed to teach older people to use them. This is where the Learning 2.0gether program can help. 1 Web 2.0 is the term used to describe second generation internet technologies, e.g. Social Media, Google tools other online collaboration software. Find out more about the project at

4 The project began in November 2012 with funding from the European Commission. During this funded period the project has trained a number of young people to become digital media trainers; training them in the soft skills, training skills and the hard skills (digital products) they need to be able to support older workers in SMEs and help them develop their use of social media. An innovative 360 degree learning methodology has been transferred from the UK and adapted for use by partners in the UK, Italy and Spain. The young people participated in 2 periods of piloting, taking part in an iterative cycle of learning, practicing training skills and reflecting throughout the programme. As well as soft skills training which helped them to improve their self-confidence and employability skills, they also learned how to teach older people to use Social Media and received in-depth training on the hard skills/digital products (focusing primarily on tools such as Facebook, YouTube, Linked-In and Twitter), which can all help businesses increase their profile, boost sales and keep in touch with their customers and supporters. The pilot courses were very successful and important outcomes for both young people and SME workers were reported. Outcomes included increased confidence and wider support networks for both target groups, along with increased opportunities for employment. Some younger participants had the opportunity to explore how their skills could help them to become self-employed, for example one young man set up his own film blog following the course and began writing a business plan to see how he could develop this commercially. SMEs reported an increased interest in and understanding of Social Media after the training they received. One business in particular worked with their young volunteer to set up their Business Page on Facebook and was successful in receiving their first piece of paid work from this before they had finished the pilot course! Based on the successful feedback received from participants, partners feel that the project is very sustainable and has potential for commercialisation. This plan therefore outlines the Learning 2.0gether partnerships plans for sustainability and commercialisation of our main products and results.

5 The Learning 2.0gether Main Products Learning 2.0gether has transferred training methodologies from Inova Consultancy Ltd in the UK and MFG in Germany to deliver a face to face training programme for young people with an interest in becoming a Social Media Trainer. The face to face materials are supported by online resources developed jointly between MFG and VAS (UK) which are available through a Learning Hub. Alongside this, VAS have developed a Skills Share Platform where young people and SME s can advertise their services/needs to each other. These main products of the Learning 2.0gether programme form the basis of our commercialisation plan and are detailed further below. Learning 2.0gether Training programme: The face to face training delivered to young people during the piloting of Learning 2.0gether included three main aspects: 1/ Soft Skills training; to build confidence and employability 2/ Training to Train; in order to prepare young people to teach older workers in SMEs 3/ Hard Skills training; to build knowledge of young people in the use of Social Media for business. Adapted by Inova Consultancy and MFG the training programme followed an iterative cycle of training > Practice > Reflection which provided an opportunity to put learning into practice then reflect on the outcomes with the help of a skilled facilitator in a peer mentoring setting. Further information about the training programme can be found in annex 1. Iterative Learning Cycle in Learning 2.0gether Training Programme

6 During the training young people were matched with businesses needing their help and delivered training either in one to one or group sessions. During the sessions young people were taught how to work with the organisation to help put together their social media strategy, helping them to think about: What it is they want to promote Which would be the best platforms How they can measure how effective the marketing has been How it needs to be managed within their organisation They then provided further support in the practical use of the main social media tools, such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. E-learning Zone To support the face to face learning (above) an online learning hub has also been developed which provides the hard skills training materials for SMEs. The hub is available at: and through the main project website. During the piloting of the Learning 2.0gether course, young people and SME workers had access to this learning hub and it was used to support the face to face training with young people using the platform during their sessions with SMEs. SME workers were also able to access the hub themselves outside of face to face sessions in order to refresh what they had learned and refer back to anything they were unsure off. Feedback from all partners showed that the SME workers did not use the hub as much as we had hoped as, being new to digital resources in most cases, they did not feel comfortable accessing the platform on their own. However, it was useful for the young people and was used extensively during the face to face sessions.

7 Online Skills Match Platform This is a multi-lingual product which has been developed by VAS. The skills match system is available in all 4 partner languages, for young people in any country to sign up and be matched with local placements. All of the activity can be overseen by the local partners. The skills-share zone is available via the project website and provides a place where young people sign-up to be matched with businesses needing help with social media. Once matched, an organisation can invite the young person to come along for an interview, or send more information, the young person can then decide whether to accept/decline the position. The system is currently maintained by an in house IT team based at VAS and maintained as part of a suite of software products they develop and support. The platform was developed during the 2 nd year of the Learning 2.0gether project and was officially launched at the Final Conference in September 2014.

8 Sustainability of Products Training materials The Learning 2.0gether materials outlined above are covered by an IPR agreement which has been developed by Inova Consultancy Ltd and MFG and agreed by all partners. Copies of the agreements are attached in annex 3. The agreement outlines the use partners can make of the training materials following the funded period of the project, including how they may commercialise the programme themselves at a later date and how materials can be promoted and further developed. All partners signed the agreement and some partners already plan to continue using the materials with further groups. In particular, in Italy the partner plans to further develop the training which took place in Learning 2.0gether through the development of a new pilot project CIV SOCIAL MEDIA STREET which is being financed by the Chamber of Commerce of Genoa. The project will address the Social Media needs of the retail trade sector and will start in January The project will enrol some of the young participants in the Learning2.0gether project as trainers, building on the skills they have already learned. In the UK, Inova Consultancy Ltd have begun offering Social Media consultancy sessions as a result of feedback received from small businesses during the project. Project website The project website itself will continue to be hosted until October 2015 as a minimum (see annex 2 for full details) and will act as a portal to the projects main online products (below) and other project information and resources. E-Learning Zone The platform was setup and is hosted by Voluntary Action Sheffield. The first 2 years of hosting have been covered by the project and under the current agreement (mentioned above) it will continue to be available until 31 st October 2015 however, in order to sustain the website and E-Learning Zone after this date it will need to become self-sustainable. This would be covered alongside the Skills Match Platform and options are explored further below. Skills Match Platform The Skills Match Platform has strong potential for commercialisation and could become self-sustainable following the funded period of the project; this would need to be done in conjunction with the main website (which acts as the portal to the platform) and the E-Learning Zone (which provides supporting materials for trainers and trainees). Therefore, the rest of this sustainability plan focuses on the options available for this in the future. In order to sustain this platform post the project end, VAS developed this based on an existing suite of software products which will ensure it is a flexible system which could be further developed in the future, for

9 example by potentially allowing for partners to expand the offer to the target group by providing a greater range of opportunities in the future (rather than being limited to social media support for 50+ workers). There is a team of 5 people working in the IT team at VAS who support the online systems. As part of the project, Partners were given a 12 month contract (free of charge), to help them pilot and sustain use of the system for 1 year following the end of the funded period of the project. Following this, it is hoped to be able to sustain the platform further by securing additional funds for more development with a view to eventually becoming self-sustainable (either by introducing paid services for businesses or advertising). The skills match platform is now live in all partner languages and is presently being used to help young people and SME s requiring social media support to find each other. However, post 31 October 2014, this could be expanded to match people of any age with any type of work placements, therefore opening up further opportunities for future sustainability. Feedback from throughout the piloting of the L2G project, has shown that many younger SME workers would also benefit from receiving Social Media support, as all partners received a number of requests from people younger than 50 to take part in the training. There are also other ways in which the platform could be further developed in order to provide a better service to the target groups: Future plans include, giving SME s the opportunity to give feedback and reviews from the young people who have helped them and helping the young people build an online CV which they can use to evidence experience when applying for jobs in order improve employability. We are also discussing using the platform to increase mobility across Europe, so that interns/students could be matched with placements in other European countries. At the moment the platform is only available in the 4 partner languages, however this could be expanded. In order to develop the platform in this way, we would need to seek further funding, which VAS is actively pursuing. At the moment this service is free to users and partners have an agreement with VAS which allows them to actively use the platform until 31 st October 2015 without paying a licence fee. However, following this initial agreement the partnership will need to consider further ways of financing the platform to ensure its sustainability. We are currently considering options for this which could include further funding or introducing charges to users to help sustain the project going forward. Key to being able to charge is ensuring a quality service is provided, which would be difficult to do without further funding to sustain the training and support we have given to the young people.

10 Market Research Feedback from Learning 2.0gether Pilot Participants During the 2 nd pilot training delivered as part of the programme, a small sample of the SME participants in the UK were given a short questionnaire regarding the sustainability of the programme (see annex 4 for template). This was with the aim of determining whether SMEs would be prepared to work with a young person on a longer term basis and/or to pay for a similar service to that provided through Learning 2.0gether in the future. The feedback from the small sample group was positive: All of those asked said they would be interested in working with a young person on a longer term basis, around Social Media. All said they would be prepared to pay for training and support from a young person in the future However, 2 of 3 businesses asked did state that they would only be prepared to pay when they had more work and the resources to be able to do so. Comments given included: My business is still new and my marketing budget non-existent. However, later in the year when I m hopefully making a profit, I would definitely want to arrange, for instance, monthly sessions We d be interested but currently lack funds. Would return to this once we have more work in and can resource this Those asked said they would be prepared to pay between per session for training/support. This feedback supports the value of the training that was given by young people to SMEs and suggests that there could be a commercial future for the training developed within Learning 2.0gether. As mentioned above, 2 of the partners have firm plans to develop further training around this theme in order to continue the work we have begun in the project and ensure impact continues to be delivered.

11 The rest of the market research completed as part of the sustainability plans for Learning 2.0gether focused on the future development of the Skills Match platform: Competitors: The following have been identified as our main competitors in the market in terms of commercialising the Skills Match Platform and other Learning 2.0gether online products: Vinspired s Task Squad Task Squad is a new service from vinspired which introduces young people, eager to undertake paid work, to organisations that are looking to fulfil short term staffing needs. Vinspired are a youth volunteering charity, who has around 150,000 young people registered with them. The project received funding from the Nominet Trust to help setup this service. One of vinspired's core aims is to help young people into employment through giving them opportunities to do good things. They created Task Squad, where young people get paid for work placements. Who is Task Squad aimed at? Startups and smaller businesses Task Squad provides the organisations with access to a community of young people ready for paid work, who have proven experience of volunteering and can usually respond at short notice. It will also play an important role in helping young people take what, for some, will be their first steps into paid employment.

12 How it works - For every hour of paid work a young person undertakes through the Task Squad site vinspired receive 4 from the task-posting organisation. Beyond supporting Task Squad, the money earned goes towards offering easy-to-access opportunities and support for young people to get involved with good causes in their communities. Digital Youth Academy: Whilst the Task Squad has a wider focus on employability skills, the Digital Youth Academy has a particular focus on digital skills and social media. The organisation is developing Social Digital Media qualifications and aims to incorporate these into the core offering of colleges and training providers. Further information about the organisation can be found at: Who is the Digital Youth Academy aimed at? The academy is aimed at young people and colleges/training providers and is aimed at gaining recognition for the digital skills which young people have. They provide a range of courses (including online learning) which provide qualifications in a range of digital and social media skills. One of the courses provided is a Digital Apprenticeship and the organisation also advertises this to employers, offering apprentices that can work with them to develop the businesses skills in this area. This is offered in line with official apprenticeship schemes and employers taking apprentices are expected to make a financial contribution to the wage (although year olds are fully funded). How it works To deliver its service the Digital Youth Academy has a range of partners who help to deliver their services, see and Partners are high profile training organisations and digital companies.

13 SWOTT analysis Strengths Innovative in its delivery method Addresses need to increase employability in young people and Social Media skills in SMEs Utilises EU expertise of project partners There is a proven demand for this type of training Positive feedback received from pilots Adaptable for new target audiences Multilingual Has an existing network of participants Opportunities There is an increased effort in tackling youth unemployment across Europe Multilingual platform and resources available Britain needs 750,000 skilled digital workers by % of businesses in the UK are yet to develop a social media strategy and may need support No similar training offering the same benefits to both target groups Trends S O W T Weaknesses Difficult to recruit young people due to lack of motivation Difficult to engage and retain NEETs Stereotypes held by older people about young people may affect their willingness to receive training from them Lack of funding for partners to deliver future training Cost of obtaining a licence to continue using the platform Threats Trends above may disappear A lot of competition in social media training for businesses Young people may be more attracted to courses with formal accreditation T Growing need to market products/services through Social Media E-commerce Globalization of markets means tools that can connect people cheaply around the world are important Young people are experts in the field Increased interest in volunteering

14 Applications of Market Research How is the Skills Share Platform placed in the market? Based on the competitor research completed, the L2G Skills Match platform potentially has a strong place in the market. o o Whilst there are other social media training courses available across the partner countries, research suggests that L2G is unique in its focus: i.e. intergenerational learning focusing specifically on how to use social media in business with the opportunity to receive individualised support. As the Skills Match platform will allow volunteers to offer one to one support on a voluntary basis there is a definite USP for the platform within the partner regions: There is no other service offering the above available to businesses in Sheffield. In Italy and Spain the idea of volunteering in this way is relatively unique (volunteering does not currently have the same value in these countries as in the UK), therefore also offers something new to businesses and young people. Our main competitors would be services such as the Digital Youth Academy who are offering accredited training to young people. However, with this accreditation comes a bigger commitment required from both the young people and businesses involved. Therefore, L2G could use this as an opportunity to promote their service on a more informal level, especially with the backing of Voluntary Action Sheffield, which will appeal to smaller businesses without the resources to pay for and support a full time apprentice. Desk research shows that smaller businesses usually have less resources to pay for training themselves so being able to tap into volunteers able to support them in their Social Media work would also appeal to them: As outlined above, there was a definite interest from participants (both young people and older workers) to continue training or recommend it to friends which also strongly suggests that there is a place in the market for this main product of the L2G project. However, the partnership will need to continue to work together over the next year to ensure that the necessary improvements are made and that we build the number of members to a number which will help us to sustain the platform after the current licence period.

15 Options for continued funding There are a range of potential options which could allow us to ensure the sustainability of the Skills Match Platform following the funded period of the project. For the first year following the initial funding period, all L2G partners will continue to be able to use the platform thanks to the support of VAS. This will allow us to plan any further developments that would be required before beginning any commercialisation process, as we will need to ensure that the site is of high quality and has a good database of members before introducing any charges to businesses in order to make it self-sustainable. Partners have already discussed potential improvements/additions to the site which would provide a service we could charge for, however further funding would be required to make these improvements. Therefore, we are initially looking into further funding streams which could include: Further European Union funding o The new Erasmus Plus programme (development of training programmes) o Horizons 2020 (development of IT technology behind the database and innovation for SMEs) UK government funding NESTA Nominet Trust Crowd funding Revenue can be raised through crowd funding sites which help start-up business ideas to generate income. We would also use the next year to grow the number of young people and SMEs who are registered on the platform whilst it is free to use. This would ensure that when we come to commercialising the platform there will be a good number of current members actively using the site. This is essential for new members to see the benefit before paying to join. Once the platform is full developed (in terms of technical requirements, content and member numbers) we will then be able to explore full commercialisation of the site. Options for this could include: Charging SMEs to post training/placement opportunities Charging for advertising on the site (potentially a source of income if we can increase the numbers sufficiently as advertising could be aimed at 2 target groups, widening the potential market for advertisers) Finding commercial sponsors for the platform It is unlikely that the target group of young people would be able to pay for this service; therefore any commercialisation will need to focus on the business users as the main client in terms of paid service. We would therefore need to make it a priority to attract more SMEs through business networks on all countries,

16 including Chambers of Commerce, Trade Unions for small businesses, Voluntary Action networks etc. A full marketing will be required to plan for future growth and the platform will need to demonstrate clearly its key benefits to the target groups. Conclusion and Action Points Future Sustainability VAS and Inova are actively looking for funding to help sustain this project, post October We are considering whether or not we can generate revenue from the SME s from the service they receive. Initial feedback has shown that the SMEs involved in the pilot would consider paying for the service in the future which is encouraging, however a full feasibility study would need to be carried out to determine the full possibilities for this and how it could be practically managed by partners. Key to charging for services is ensuring a high quality product is provided which we can only do by investing into training and support for the young people involved and ensuring the platform offers full value for money and clear benefits for both SMEs and young people. Therefore, we would also need to explore more sustainable ways of providing training to other young people in the future which partners are able to do as part of the IPR agreement which has been signed. As discussed above there are a number of funding streams which we may be able to access in order to get the platform to a point where it can become commercial. Key themes attractive to funders are around improving employability on young people, helping older people with employability, support for SME s, support for startup businesses. All key themes tackled within Learning 2.0gether. Some of the challenges are around being able to recruit the young people and keep them engaged. Incentives must be tangible, e.g. paid work or demonstrable improved chances of securing a job for them to fully engage. Equally, without fully engaged young people to provide support, SMEs will not continue to use the platform. Therefore, building active members from both target groups will be essential for the future commercialisation of the product and partners will work on this during the next year while we have access to the platform. A full marketing plan will be needed to support this work and how we market and promote the service will also need to be carefully considered. There will certainly be more improvements which could be made following the initial piloting period, for example changing the terminology used on the site could be useful in its future promotion. For e.g. we can help you become a Digital Marketing Trainer might mean more to young people, than a Web 2.0 trainer, which is the terminology we have used throughout the project. In terms of sustainability, we will need to further develop the marketing around Learning 2.0gether to ensure that these initial ideas are developed in order to provide a really attractive package for both target groups. To conclude, we are confident that the Learning 2.0gether online resource can fill a gap in the market to for a platform that will allow younger people with Social Media skills to support SMEs in developing the skills of their workers in this area. Whilst further funding is explored and secured, the commitment of VAS to maintain the site until 31 st October 2015 will allow the platform to stay alive and members to continue to join. During this time the site will continue to be sustained and grown, giving us room to secure further funding to continue development with an aim of making the site self-sufficient in the longer term.

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