Opening Doors

Connect local business owners that are willing to share their knowledge and experience with people looking to upskill. This would result in building a sense of community around the different skills and different professions that there are in Camden. It would also result in making the process of learning visible and help the learners to find their interests, upscale their skills and confidence.

Project Duration:

Nov.2021-Feb.2022 (4 months)

My role:

As a service designer to analyze the data through various service mapping and facilitate workshops to co design the solution.
01. Background

The project focuses on leveraging the concept of Learning Recognition and Accreditation to help the communities and local people in and around Camden. Not everyone is interested or able to get involved, for example in neighborhoods burdened with multiple regeneration initiatives and proposals. Our goal is to study possible interventions that help in recognizing and accrediting the learning of citizens involved in Social Action projects. The intention is to help people connect with support and opportunities that can help them move towards ‘good work’ and being job ready for a sector of their choice. To develop an accreditation framework for Social Action which will support citizens in building confidence in their skills. The framework will help realize value for accreditation and build a programe that has value in the labour market, increasing employment opportunities for citizens engaged with it.

02. Secondary Research
Using the tool of stakeholder mapping we mapped out all the organizations that could be approached for the topic of learning recognition and accreditation. This helped us in clarifying the roles and relationships between the organizations. We then divided the organizations into various topics based on the area they cater to such as employment, environment, health, etc. We were able to narrow down to 3 focus areas employment, youth, learning & education
After COVID struck the job market, it worsened the already bad situation. Post pandemic, the job vacancy reduced 40%.
16.3% of people in Camden with low job qualification. Due to the investigation, Camden has a higher number of people with low skill qualifications compared to Central London, Greater London and the UK.
03. Onsite visit & Interview

We visited Camden, so that we can better understand the area, the opportunities for change, to identify the characteristics and differences in the character of each sub-area and to engage with the community. Through our explorations, we walked through many parks and streets, visiting local organizations and speaking to members of the community.

Here are some of the insights from the interview

04. Persona & User Journey Map
Based on the insights from our location mapping and explorations, we had the persona from what we found and empathized with our assumed personas. In this way, we found a possible user journey map. According to the user journey map, we looked for different organizations. Finally, we matched organizations for each journey step.

We realized that many local businesses are apprehensive about getting involved with the Council. Since they are independent business owners, they have their own ways of doing things and prefer to have freedom and flexibility. They are open to sharing knowledge and teaching people but do not want the hassle of paper work and people to respond to. We also saw a disconnect between what the learners’ expectations are before starting a job versus once they are out actually doing the job in the market. This got us thinking

What if we create an informal network connecting local business owners that are willing to share their knowledge and experience with learners and people looking to upskill?

05. Co-creation workshop
We created a series of co-design activities for local business owners to engage with, in order to get their opinion and further understand their motivation for teaching. We wanted to use co-creation sessions because they bring together the group of people we are designing for and we wanted to understand
  • What makes teaching valuable to them?
  • If they would be willing to engage with some examples of existing services.
  • The values that they think are important in an employee (mentee).
  • Which future scenarios would be possible for them to implement.


It was at this point in the project that we realized that we had been missing out on one important question: How do they find each other? We had been so focused on trying to look at the journey from the enabler, the local business’ perspective, that we had forgotten to look at it from the learners point of view. Based on this we had a brainstorming session around the learner. One of the questions led us to the ‘facilitator’ we had been looking for all along

06. The Living Room Club

The Living Room Club is our main stakeholder who we discovered at the end of the project. It is a local cafe, gallery and events venue in Camden Town, London; a community space where people come before profits. They hold various lessons such as language classes, upcycling sessions, sewing classes, etc. for free. Speaking to the manager gave us interesting insights. Majority of the workers at the cafe and the people who teach sessions are volunteers.

We aim to use such community hubs and strengthen them as points for learning pathways. Celebrating the willingness of the community to teach and creating an informal learning network.

07. Expert Interview
We met Mr. Richard who runs the ‘Find a Better Job’ support group at the living room club. By talking to him we were able to gain valuable perspective and learn about the recent successes and failures about the program. He says that he is aware that London can be an unfriendly place. So building a community in supporting people in whatever they are going through is necessary. This helped validate our thought process for the need of such a service. To build a sense of community around the different skills and different professions that are there in Camden.
  • The program does not have a stable network of professionals to give learners a chance to understand various professions and what they entail. They rely on personal connections which are hard to sustain.
  • Providing an opportunity for learners to build their confidence and self assess their learnings while working with a professional in a real work environment.
08. Service design toolkit

Systematic Mapping

The insights from Richard led us to think about creating a self assessment tool for learners to use and help realize and document their learnings through various stages of their apprenticeship. Therefore we map out the whole system to see the opportunity.

Value Proposition

To validate and strengthen a concept solution before moving forward with development. It helped us to look at the relationship between customer segments and value propositions, pains and gains; and how the service eventually matches with the proposition and its pain relievers and gain creators.

09. Prototyping
We built our service for the learner, assuming The Living Room Club to play the role of the facilitator and the local businesses as enablers. Keeping this in mind, we build our prototype to be used after the learner has identified their area of interest and has been connected to a local business.
  1. The prototype includes a list of questions to help the user reflect on their past weeks of learning during the apprenticeship with the help of a “Gratitude Tree”, so that the participant can visualize their feelings.
  2. Then using the REBEL cards we asked the participants to pick from a specific set of cards that classifies as ‘low skills’. From there, they identify these skills as soft skills and hard skills. The activity concludes by choosing an appropriate emoji to describe their feeling after the realization and visualization of the skills. 
  3. As encouragement and confidence builders, the participants are given badges based on the improvements shown during the week. 

This activity is repeated multiple times throughout the apprenticeship and documented similarly. At the end of the apprenticeship, the learner will have evidence of their progress and be able to look back at their growth and learning timeline.

10. Conclusion & Reflection
In the coming future, we aim to make this service more structured and sustainable. We would like to engage more enablers into this network and increase accessibility by introducing more hubs for the learners. There can be multiple variations of the self assessment toolkit, which can be made more handy in the form of a booklet. Upscaling this to a digital medium can aid learners in keeping a track of their progress and access it with ease. We believe this is just the start for ‘Opening Doors’ and we will be working towards creating/growing this service.
After multiple undocumented iterations and late realizations we reached a point where we didn’t want our project to end! Looking back, there are a few things that we could improve on and some things that could go better.
  • There was a difficulty to let go of some ideas.
  • We became aware of the fact that we should be more proactive in talking to people.
  • We have to keep an open mind and take a step back to evaluate and reflect on our ways of viewing our topic.
  • The importance of documentation as it was hard for us to remember things as we went along and these undocumented moments led to turning points in our project.
  • We loved to work together and had various conversations about anything and everything.
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