Developing an app: Help Build London

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‘We inspire the people we work with to develop their full potential through education, employment and training. We will grow Prospects to benefit the individuals we support, our colleagues and our partners by delivering more expert and innovative services to more people each year.’

About Prospects

The Prospects group delivers a range of services to over 500,000 young people and adults each year. Its user base is wide ranging from young people in schools, vulnerable young people and those not in education, employment or training (NEET), plus adults and offenders.

Prospects is a private sector organisation providing services that include:

  • the National Careers Service in London, the South West and the West Midlands, as well as a partner in Career Yorkshire and the Humber
  • the Work Programme in the South West and leading subcontractor in London and Bristol
  • targeted support for NEET and vulnerable young people
  • Ofsted Early Years Inspection Services
  • the Youth Contract
  • school improvement services and educational resources
  • events, business support and networking

Prospects work with government and local authorities, businesses, the Third Sector, schools and academies, plus further and higher education. It employs 1,400 people and has an annual turnover of over £80 million.

Why LMI for All for an app development?

Prospects are keen to explore ways of providing LMI for All data via an app to raise awareness about career opportunities in London particularly in the construction sector. They see real value in LMI for All and the access to up-to-date labour market data.

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The app, named ‘Help Build London’, has been developed to complement campaigns and initiatives that aims to attract, inform and retain a talented workforce for the construction and built environment sector, such as the Go Construct campaign and Build London website.

A Native app was chosen as it enables a user to download it from a public or private app store and store it on their mobile device.

Drawing upon their experience of developing a previous app called ‘What if I’, Prospects were confident that they have the right knowledge and expertise. Research undertaken by Prospects had found that 90% of their customer base has access to a mobile phone; most of which are smart phones.

The ‘Help Build London’ app has been developed using in-house developer and graphic design skills.

The ‘Help Build London’ app has been developed using in-house developer and graphic design skills. The app is available to download from Google Play and from Microsoft phone apps store.

What is the aim of the Help Build London app?

The ‘Help Build London’ app is aimed at raising awareness of current and future opportunities in the construction sector in London. It also encourages users who are wedded to one occupation to consider others that may fit their skills or that have better employment prospects or are in high demand in London.

It is not intended that the app will be used on its own. Instead, Prospects’ career advisers will support people to access and use the app during a careers session, as well as respond to careers and learning questions arising from its use. Telephone advisers will also encourage customers to download the app and support them in exploring the data.

The app is also aimed at other stakeholders, including CITB, Construction Youth Trust, colleges, training providers and employers. It is helping Prospects link together a number of useful London-focussed campaigns and tools in a coherent way.

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Discussions around the design of the app

Some issues have been encountered during the development of the ‘Help Build London’  app such as determining the focus of the app, refining initial ideas, resourcing technical skills and managing the development within time and budgetary constraints.

An initial challenge was determining the focus of the app and the challenge of refining their initial ideas. Both the construction and creative sectors were initially considered, but eventually, the construction sector was agreed to be the focus of the app.

Construction sector – Why?

  • Important in London, for the Local Enterprise Partnership and in terms of employment
  • Great potential for workforce to move into the sector with the right information
  • Need to inspire young people to consider construction as a career
  • Option not normally considered by customers, but data show that there is a demand in London

Creative sector – Why?

  • Interesting sector in London, but not easy to find information on
  • More potential partners in the development of the app and therefore the possibility of creating something more visually interesting
  • Receive several queries regarding the sector so there is a need for more information for customers and advisers

Sourcing, tendering and resourcing a developer within the timescale of the development was difficult. It was decided the app would be developed using Appy Pie using in-house skills and knowledge. However, early developments using Appy Pie revealed that it did not have the required functionality, such as being able to select two options. This then led Prospects to building the app in-house to ensure functionality.

The ‘Help Build London’ app was designed for installation directly onto a mobile device.

Using LMI for All

The LMI for All datasets have been selected as they are key to answering some of the questions users will have about the construction sector. Ideally, Prospects would have liked data on course and vacancy data, as well as data at a local level. These data are not available in LMI for All due to limitations in the current available data. Data included in the ‘Help Build London’ app includes:

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Will there be future job opportunities in the construction sector?
What skills do I need to work in construction?
What jobs are there in construction?
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Employment (historical, projected and replacement demand) 
Skills, abilities, interests data from O*NET 

 

What does the Help Build London app do?

A client who is interested in the construction sector in London, enters the app and selects two skills to find two potential job options (such as painters and decorators, production managers, electricians, etc.) in construction to compare. These options are based on a selection of skills. The user can then find out more about each job option, such as data on how these trades are growing across London, pay and hours, and required qualificators. A chart displaying the Working Futures data on projected employment and employment (replacement demands) is shown. A user can also access a job profile, ring to make an appointment with a Prospects careers adviser and access the Build London jobs board to access current vacancies. These vacancies are from JobCentre Plus and local agencies.

What next for Prospects and LMI for All?

The app was successfully piloted by a group of Prospects advisers and it is now being used by advisors on their Windows phones. The app has been promoted at a number of events where potential users could sign up for updates.

As a result of the success of the Help Build London app, Prospects are exploring the possibility of developing a retail industry app.

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