An online platform matching teenagers up to tasks for families and small businesses has been piloted in Brighton and Hove.
MyPocketSkill was set up by Brighton resident Matthew Harker and his colleague Zara Ransley from St Albans, and the pair have piloted their app in their home towns this year.
Matthew Harker said: “There is lots of things a capable teenager can do. There is a lot of underpaid talent out there.”
The idea of the app is to help teenagers earn cash, build up skills and work experience, while families and small companies can access their skills for certain tasks.
He said jobs included the traditional tasks such as dog walking, babysitting, homework help and tutoring, but also extends to social media for a start-up, or in one case bespoke portraits from a skilled young artist.
Mr Harker said: “Over 600 people are signed up, three quarters are teenagers and a quarter are families and businesses.”
Ms Ransley describes MyPocketSkill as a chance to ‘tool-up teens with real-life skills’, and even help to create the next generation of entrepreneurs.
In research she had done on entrepreneurs, the pair discovered the founder of Twitter met his mentor when he was mowing his lawn, and Ms Ransley said MyPocketSkill could help to ‘make connections with people outside of their immediate social circle’.
Mr Harker said: “There is no-one doing quite what we do. Ultimately we plan to roll it out nationwide.
“We want to measure the impact that connecting young people to small tasks has on in terms of their ability to enter higher education or to get a job or to even start up their own micro-business.
“You’re less likely to become a ‘NEET’ (not in education, employment or training) if you have some engagement with employers.”
The founders have run focus group sessions, to find out what they can do to help young people, including a discussion with 70 students at BHASVIC.
It was described as ‘a fruitful and fun discussion’ and one of the students said: “Finally, someone is taking interest in what interests us rather than telling us.”
The founders have also consulted with businesses on what help they need, and found there was a ‘digital skills gap’ that young people could help fill. They also found that small companies ‘did not want the commitment of a full time apprentice’, but did often need help with small tasks.
The platform is aimed at 13 to 19-year-olds, and anyone of school age has their profile monitored by their parents.
Mr Harker said the service charges ‘a small commission fee’ for tasks, but is free to post listings and to sign up for teenagers and businesses.
To find out more about the service, visit: mypocketskill.com