YouRock: The New Professional Social Media Platform for Young People

Written by Ian Clifford | Blog | Candidates | Posted 23/08/2013

In 2013, the youth unemployment rate across Europe is 23.5% compared to an overall rate of 11%. In Greece youth unemployment is over 60%, in Spain it stands at over 55%, while in Italy and Portugal it is around 40%. In the UK it is over 20% compared to an overall unemployment rate of 7.7%. It is not unacceptable to have such differences. Overall, around 7.5 million people in the EU between 15 and 24 are not in education, employment or training.

In June 2013 the EU agreed €6bn for the “Youth Guarantee”. This measure ‘guarantees’ young people a range of opportunities – continued education, job placements, apprenticeships or traineeships – within 4 months of leaving education or employment. This is a welcome and significant step, but it may not be enough to focus on the supply side of the problem. There are hidden but significant recruitment issues for young people: in the way they identify and present their skills and achievements online, in the career tools available for them, and in the career opportunities they perceive they have open to them.

The millennial generation have grown up with technology and are often called ‘digital natives’; yet it is estimated that there will be more than 900,000 unfilled ICT jobs in the EU by 2015. 94% of young people under 25 across EU are online daily. Young people love technology; they consume it and expect its continuous development and availability, but don’t seemingly see it as a career path. Why does demand for skilled workers outstrip supply in the ICT industry?

YouRock Young PeopleIt might be expected that only 25% of young people have “created a webpage” or 20% “written a program”, but why have 41% not carried out a routine creative task like “creating an electronic presentation”?(all Eurostat, 2012). School curricula are changing to include programming at a younger age, so the ratio able to carry out more advanced coding tasks will change in time. The percentage unable to build a presentation is a worrying figure belying a failure to understand how they should use technology for their employability. What is more worrying still is that online professional networks that could help their employment prospects, are not designed for young people and even alienate and demotivate them.

LinkedIn, the largest employment-focused online network is predominantly excluding young people. Only around 17% of under 25s in the US have a LinkedIn account. The average age of a LinkedIn user is 44, and young people under 24 form only around 5% of its members (under 18s only 2%). Young people themselves cite that there aren’t other young people on LinkedIn, and that a lack of employment history puts them off from joining.

“LinkedIn is not forgiving. This issue goes so deep I wouldn’t even know where to start.” Lydia M. comment on Young People Hate LinkedIn

3They feel inferior to others on LinkedIn because it is dominated by senior executives with long employment histories, large professional networks, and copious citations and endorsements. It is not a level playing field, but it is where employers look for evidence when reviewing prospective employees. There is also much evidence to say that many young people leave school with the same grades as their peers, and further education establishments say it is hard to set apart candidates. After higher education, employers cite that it is hard to differentiate prospective employees. Young people do have latent business skills that would differentiate them, but there is no service across Europe that encourages them to identify these or gives them the opportunity to record and have them endorsed.

YouRock is a new employability platform for young people across Europe that will fill this gap. It will encourage young people to use their existing online content creation activities as evidence of their latent skills and aptitudes. It will involve teachers and tutors in endorsing these skills to help build a richer career networking profile for them. It will allow them to bridge the gap while they build a career history. YouRock specifically intends to help young people to become more employable, and motivate them to see technology not only as intrinsic to their employability, but also as a potential career opportunity. A hackathon will bring together some of the best young programmers from across Europe to build the prototype.

You can pledge to support the project at

Ian Clifford

Ian Clifford has a long history of working with young people and community technology networks. He was a Devon County Council Youth worker and in 1997 launched COSMIC a community technology centre employing young people, based in a youth club. In 2002, he joined the team managing the national network of 4,000 UK online centres that help people to get online and benefit from the internet. In 2010 he launched Telecentre-Europe, a network of 30,000 community technology learning centres across Europe, where he was the chair of the organisation until last year, and where he developed Skillage a youth employability self assessement tool. Ian is now crowdfunding to establish YouRock an employability platform for young people that will address the youth employability issues above.

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