SKILLxShopConceptThe established way of employing the unemployed is through Job Centres.These places try to ﬁt people to listed jobs. For people with little experience or speciﬁcknowledge, the process is dispiriting since it tries to rework the human to meet the task.Perhaps, it would be better to reverse the situation.Instead of ofﬁces that demand people come in and negotiate down their skills and intereststo meet speciﬁc jobs and roles, maybe we can create places where people with sharedknowledge and skills can meet up to show their capabilities and to work with others tomake new types of jobs and businesses.WhatThere are a couple of simple ways in which these places could be described:• General business - a mixture of people with skills drawn from across the management, technical, artistic, manufacturing, etc. world who can make new connections with others and build virtual businesses to try and create new jobs for themselves and others. For many individuals, ﬁnding people with skills they do not themselves possess is tricky, particularly when un(der)employed. A shared space like this could create an artisan business environment, open to the creation of new partnerships and ways of working.• Themed business - being with people with the same experience and skills can be an empowering experience for some people. The semi-competitive environment allows them to see more in themselves and more in what they can do. A themed space (marketing, graphics, making, web) could allow people to show existing businesses what they can do and make it easier for individuals or ad hoc groups to talk and bid for contracts.WhereUnused shops in city centre or outskirts could be used.This is a return to the old artisan concept of mixing places to shop with those to make andwork. It is coupling a reinvigoration of the shopping areas with a re-building of localbusinesses and the people who make them live and grow.Bringing graphic design, web design, marketing, making and so on back to the high streetis a way of reversing the Corbuisian ﬂow of business to special areas (business parks,science parks, etc.) and back into the core areas of the city.
HowThe concept could be tried out in one empty shop in the city centre.We need:-ShopRebranding of front with banner/graphicsOfﬁce furnitureWiﬁ/InternetSome soft furnitureVolunteers to enable attendees to ﬁnd their feet and ﬁnd out how to make new businessestogether. A strong support mechanism is needed to pump prime this kind of new way ofinvolving the unemployed in establishing their skills, talking to others about ways ofworking mutually and bringing in businesses to talk and trade with the people.The system can have a self-supporting side through skill swapping and barter to enablelow-cost start ups drawing from a range of skills amongst the attendees.A social networking side can expand the reach of the physical site to a greater range ofpeople both to invite them in and to share the work.TEDxBrumTEDxBrum speakers and their ideas sparked this concept.They include:Andy WeatherleyBirmingham was a city where business and passion could work together to deliver wealthand moral achievements for all.Rob BloxhamIts better to put an idea out there than sit on it and let it achieve nothing.Sarah MountTechnology is something that we can all take control of. We can make and build virtual andphysical objects together in new ways.Ben Dyson & Eleanor WatsonLike technology, wealth and money creation is something that we can all take control ofand make work in a way that is novel.Eleanor HoadPeople may goggle at non-standard ways of using the streets of Birmingham and fearchange but they can realise the beneﬁt and share the success.
Tonya BoltonAccepting and being bold and truthful about how we came to where we are can be thebasis of ﬁnding our new selves and new lives.Leon BurkeThis concept may get people playing with Macs and Photoshop out of his favourite coffeeshops.Getting goingThis is just an idea that came out of my experience of listening to a range of people atTEDxBrum.Im open to it being a really bad idea (and I can identify some holes) but itd be nice to talkabout different ways of doing things that might ﬁx a range of social problems through usinglocal places and local knowledge to empower people and support their skills rather thanendlessly berate them for having the wrong experience or knowledge.I can be contacted on Twitter @acuity_designAlastair Somerville+44 (0)7808 480749