Beyond (un)employment
An International Collaboration to Tackle Local Issues

Never in the modern era have the challenges of employment been as pronounced as they are now. Whilst employment figures rise, they can mask the reality of poor contracts and demoralising conditions (think short-term assignments, zero hours, internships), the persistent imbalances (demographical, geographical, structural) and the reality of a society unprepared for the rapidly changing nature of work. Across Europe the acute unemployment crisis which comes along with ongoing economic turmoil is hardening into chronic unemployment, and many of the attempts to curb it have, thus far, failed.

The global Impact Hub movement is at the forefront of a changing world of employment, whether through the innovative approaches to ways of working, or the efforts undertaken by our community to address these diverse issues in an effort to help change the reality affecting many. This has led to the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Foundation) deciding to support us to explore issues of (un)employment across Europe with a view to collectively improve civil society across the continent as a result. As a starting point, 5 Impact Hubs (Birmingham, Florence, Moscow, Yerevan and Zagreb) will work on an employment-related topic highly relevant to their region and their citizens – such as Youth Unemployment, Social Inclusion for the Unemployed, and Future Forms of Working – developing a deep and system-level understanding of the issue before designing, and ultimately implementing, interventions and solutions to these issues. Impact Hub Birmingham has been asked to co-lead the beyond (un)employment project and will be bringing the global findings in locally as well as sharing out the local ideas globally during the project’s lifetime.

Here in the UK, the Leave vote in the EU referendum (whilst still not entirely clear in its impact) has already created a sense of fear, desperation and uncertainty – especially amongst EU nationals working in the UK and young people from the UK who may wish to work in the EU in future. This has inspired us to focus our beyond (un)employment investigation on how leaving the EU affects the workforce and economy in a regional city; particularly relevant in a city which is super-diverse, young, has significant (persistent and structural) (un)employment issues and is under strain from domestic fiscal policy. Birmingham is one of largest local (and leaderless…) authorities in Western Europe and has benefitted greatly from the job mobility currently enjoyed as part of the EU. Here, the fallout and implications of any agreed deal will need to be understood rapidly, as well as its impact on the nature of work and the regional economy, so that our city and citizens are best placed to flourish as a result.

Initially beyond (un)employment is a one year investigation into identifying the problems and finding solutions around the issue, with the likelihood being any practical and implementable solutions will be invested in and, if they prove to have an impact, transferred to other cities and contexts.

Over the next month Impact Hub Birmingham will put out an official open call for anyone who wants to be involved in this project and can help us make sure it has a meaningful, impactful and generous outcome for the citizens of Birmingham and the EU. If this sounds of interest to you, then please let us know that you have an interest in joining the research team here, or get in touch with me at with any further questions or comments.

Beyond (un)employment is also Impact Hub Birmingham’s first real foray into leading collaborations with partner Impact Hubs from other countries, and we’re really keen to make sure the value and opportunities it brings are shared with our community and city, in alignment with our mission. If you have any thoughts of your own about how to do this or what this project means to you, please let us know!


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